Imagination is more important than knowledge.

20th March 2018

What Happened to the 3-D Printing Craze?

It’s been a good few years now since the 3-D printing craze took flight, but it never really took off properly, did it? It was the hottest thing since tablet PCs and even the likes of smart watches, with all manner of tech reviews doing the rounds about the impending explosion of the 3-D printing craze.

What happened to it though? Why is the subsequent 3-D printing craze not quite living on and leaving a lasting legacy? We explore a few factors which contributed to the apparent demise of 3-D printing technology…

Limited to personal use

As with many other things of this world, 3-D printers were touted as nifty tech gizmos meant for personal use. This indicatively meant that if you wanted to use a 3-D printer you’d have to buy one for yourself and so in a sense 3-D printers were limited to those who were convinced of their “need” enough to stretch their budgets a bit and buy them.

A lack of associated imagination

For many consumers who went on to actually buy 3-D printers the novelty wore off rather quickly. It was a case of having to leave it on, printing for up to three hours in some instances, just so that you can marvel at the miniature plastic items you printed out. The apparent lack of imagination associated with what 3-D printers can do contributed greatly to their fading away into the distant background.

Effective commercial deployment

This suggests something which presents a different perspective as to why the 3-D printing craze appears to have died out. The narrative is that actually 3-D printing technology went on to become a success, but the success it found was within a market that is different to that which it was originally intended for.

3-D printed items are deployed all the time, but the users thereof aren’t typical consumers who are awestruck by the novelty of being able to print a 3-D object. They’re used in commercial deployment, such as how a car mechanic might print out a mould for a specific auto part and in so doing they can use that mould over and over again without having to print the required part directly using the 3-D printer.

Self-replication

This is a rather interesting one and it has some very smart people realising the self-replication power of some makes of 3-D printers. They print all the parts of the original 3-D printer and then put them together, perhaps together with the deployment of some third-party electronic components and software to get them up and running.

Access from print shops

Many people are of the idea that the costs of purchasing a 3-D printer are just not worth it, so whenever they need something printed in this way they’d head on over to a printing shop which offers 3-D printing services. It makes sense I guess because how often would you really need to print something with your 3-D printer, really?

So I guess it’s safe to say that 3-D printing technology has simply found its natural market and market size.

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