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May 1, 2017

What went wrong with Desktop 3D Printers?


With all the new desktop 3D printers coming out recently, I often hear people drawing parallels between the computer revolution and 3D printing. As we all know, the computer revolution did not start with large mainframe computers. Rather, it started with personal computers that put the technology in the hands of individuals. What can we draw from this? new technologies will often only truly take off once they became part of people’s daily life. That was perhaps the motivation behind all those companies who got into desktop 3D printing – to put a 3D printer in every home.

However, as of 2017, the demand has yet to match the expected growth. Most desktop 3D printers were sold to companies and hobbyists rather than to mainstream consumers. 3D printer manufactures responded to this by decreasing price and adding new features, but the trend remains. Desktop 3D printers never really moved beyond the early adopters.

Big companies are shifting focus, smaller companies are going bankrupt, and yet, I’m still a firm believer in consumer 3D printers ending up in every home. I truly believe that this future is still well within our grasp. However, to achieve that future we may have to reframe – mere technological improvements alone may not be enough.

This will be the first of many blog posts where I will discuss an alternative path by which desktop 3D printing could reach mainstream acceptance. More updates coming soon…

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