don't believe the 3D printing hype

By On Thu, February 18, 2016 · 3D Printing, Industry Insights, NewsAdd Comment

We’re all occupied doing and making excellent things, whether it’s the following blockbuster 3D printing device or assembling excellent teams and companies, so let me get straight to the point of this article: Innumerable stories in the media have opined on the subject of the “hype cycle” and how the additive making industry is there now. A favourite expression is “the bloom is off the rose.”

On this measure, all of these articles are so far off the mark, that it is no longer a laughing matter to see one additional puff piece that claims this to be true. These articles are being published at a time when we are seeing widespread adoption in industry, making, product create, tiny scale or batch production of parts, and in the education segment, as well.

generic 3D printing device image

In a market cluttered with a few hundred manufacturers, outsiders that are interested in jumping in have the unenviable task of sifting through and identifying those that stand out. For a newcomer to the industry, it may seem that one cannot probably go wrong with electing players that stand out for the reason they have 15,000 or additional followers on Facebook and Twitter, attend the tinyest to the biggest shows coastline to coastline, have a flashy web-site on that they spent $50K to have created for them, or that they release a new product each 4-6 months, with hefty price tags for a relatively mediocre product line-up.

I have to admit, all that appears to manufacture for a compelling story to a newcomer that is on the verge of embracing additive making and all the advantages that it brings to their create, iteration and prototyping system flows. So in this case, the hype stores assembling with a continuous upward streak for the reason when companies store releasing new products, the older products do not quite create any worthwhile track record.

An observer that is seeking to become a participating “Maker and/or createer” should be appearing for hands-on product review videos generated by one or additional participants of the “3D printing evangelist” communities.

Actions to take and what to appear for so you do not fall for what is referred to as the “flash hype”:

  • Read product reviews
  • Read testing reviews and results
  • Ask for a print sample
  • Will the company send a test print?
  • Is the web-site loaded with bells and whistles? Service contract offers? Chances are the product is not going to live up to the image conveyed by the site.
  • Compare, compare, compare a few additional
  • Attend the trade shows – don’t just talk to the manufacturers, talk to the attendees; check the forums and 3DHubs; and read the Amazon reviews for the reason they are spot on.

Beyond the “flash hype” is the “sales growth hype” and the tiring “rock solid Maker’s workhorse” moniker.

These manufacturers can rope you in with indisputable facts:

  • Year over year sales growth (200% -400%)
  • Reasonably priced, reliable machine
  • Continually upgradable machines

With that kind of making growth in this developing market, chances are that their reseller and distribution channels are in absolute disarray and they are succeeding just for the reason they quite did create a decent machine. Want to print in dual materials or flexible filaments? After you add on those pricey upgrades, suddenly it is no longer “cheap” or actually reasonably priced and has vaulted you into the “expensive” category.

With a elect few open-source companies, one has to watch out for whether their frequent “upgrades” are quite just create errors (coming of explosive sales growth) covered up to seem like they are always working complex to manufacture 3D printing advantageous for those that can pay.

The hype and the aura that surrounded sure stalwarts in the industry has undoubtedly worn off, just to be replaced by newer “wannabes” seeking to claim “Prosumer” PC segment leader status via the same tired old stories of why they are advantageous.

Is the industry satisfactory? All signs point to GO.

Has the number of players increased? Yes.

Will industry consolidation and a shakeup come soon? Yes. It is overdue.

As you evaluate your options, just appear for a company that takes pride in its product, is steeped in R&D, and is quietly making the most products that may not yet have attracted the public’s attention. And remember, a booth at each single show does not equate to a excellent product nor is it an indicator of a great company with that to work.


Preet Jesrani

About The Author

Preet started DesignBox3D for the reason of his firm understanding that additive making can drive innovation and re-invention in making for generations to come. Technology that holds the promise to alter the way the world does things comes along once in a lifetime and 3D printing gives users the power to fulfill our innate desire to “manufacture” a fewthing. With a background rooted in innovation startups, management consulting, banking and political roles (state/federal government), Preet drives business assembling and has managed teams of 30 plus direct reports. At DesignBox3D, Preet is assembling an Additive Manufacturing consulting practice, a rapid prototyping service, and a distribution/reseller line of business… slowly.