Gartner’s annual technology Hype Cycle chart has been released, and it shows 3D printing in two positions.
The “Hype Cycle” is a chart published annually that shows Gartner’s opinion of a large selection of technology areas. Each technology is placed along a wiggly line representing the public’s perceived hype level of it. The theory is that every technology traverses a sequence of phases:
- Innovation Trigger, where the technology first emerges
- Peak of Inflated Expectations, where the technology becomes known widely and overly promoted
- Trough of Disillusionment, where the technology becomes misunderstood due to its over inflated expectations
- Slope of Enlightenment, where the technology slowly regains its reputation through use by dedicated users
- Plateau of Productivity, where the technology has truly become mature and is used effectively
Technologies really do traverse these phases, although some may fly through the list rapidly and others more slowly. Some actually die along the way, too.
We’ve been watching this report since we began Fabbaloo in 2007, where 3D printing first appeared on the left-hand side. We’ve been awaiting the fall of 3D printing into the abyss of disillusionment, which it seems to be doing, at least on what Gartner calls “Consumer 3D printing”. Meanwhile, “Enterprise 3D printing” is sailing towards the Plateau of Productivity.
We agree with this assessment; at this time many consumers are now being exposed to 3D printers - and they frequently have overly ambitious ideas of what it can do for them. The natural reaction is disappointment when they find out it’s still difficult for most people to use - and doesn’t produce the kinds of output they expected.
Yes, consumer 3D printing is likely to get a bad name for a while. But it’s a natural thing.