3D printing is emerging as a new cool curiosity object. People in almost all fields are envisioning how such a creative tool could be used to enhance their work, from medicine to construction to various other technologies.
3D printing refers to the process of creating three dimensional object using a variety of materials, such as plastic, metal, or carbon fiber. Over the last three decades, 3D printers were mainly used by engineers for quick initial prototyping.
As it stands, 3D printing is fast-growing and big players in this technology are promising to bring the printer to a more realistic price where consumers vs. early adopters and hobbyists could purchase and start using this technology. However, and apart from all the hype surrounding 3D printing, is the technology ready for adoption?
Where do things stand today?
It is still early to predict when and who will bring 3D printing to the mainstream customer. This may be due to the fact that traditional giant printing companies like HP have not yet stepped into the market. The alternative has been that big companies formed partnerships with Stratasys and the Cube brand to attempt to bring 3D printing to a more reasonable price.
Another 3D printing model is open source. Websites are now offering individuals to upload and share their designs, using more than 15 materials, including plastics of various colors, metals, and even precious metals like silver and gold.
What are the major difficulties faced by 3D printing?
A major obstacle faced by 3D printing is the lack of buy in into the idea that such a technology could be brought out to the mainstream consumer market. The technology has yet to advance and become more compelling and more intuitive in order to be brought to a broad enough audience that will use it on a regular basis.
Many analysts think that 3D printers need to be user friendly, affordable and relevant before they can be mass built and sold. Amazon has recently announced the addition of a 3D printing store on its website where people can customize and order products. Still, even with a short list of products, the fact that Amazon has taken such a step could mean that 3D printing is actually here to stay.