My Predictions and Wish list for 2017
In many ways 2016 was the year 3D printing went industrial again and in many ways almost overcompensating for the years of hype around consumer 3D printing.
With the promise of the new HP printer next year, the availability of the new Carbon printer and GE’s activity in the manufacturing space, there has been tremendous buzz on this side of the market and in manufacturing applications. However, there is a need for a balance in the ‘force’ and I hope to see this happen in 2017.
In the coming year I think innovation will come not only from 3D printing hardware but software is also an enabler and it will continue to evolve with the technology – scanning, GIS mapping, 2D to 3D applications….I also think you will see growth in service as companies and individuals will continue to rely on 3D printing services for high quality 3D printed parts if they cannot afford their own equipment.
In terms of hardware I think you will see continuing innovation in the industrial sector, in materials and processes but I also anticipate a swing back from manufacturing focused applications to printers that serve a balanced purpose like the Mcor ARKe – the ARKe has proven to not only have relevance as a manufacturing tool (eg Honda applications) but also relevance in the creative professional market for companies like Apple and Disney. I think the ARKe pivots perfectly between these manufacturing and creative sectors – paper is often underestimated as a material capable of many manufacturing applications (http://www.eurekamagazine.co.uk/design-engineering-blogs/guest-blog-it-is-paper-jim-but-not-as-we-know-it/146878/ ) and yet it is also the perfect fit as a creative tool.
Many creative artists have been designing in 3D for years but many have not taken the next step into 3D printing. We conducted our own research on this last year and the results of this really identified the real reasons that the creative industries have not embraced 3D printing – cost and colour quality.
We identified that there was not a product in the market that really fitted their needs. Either the printers were too expensive to take in house or there was a need to finish everything by hand which really defeats the purpose!
The ARKe really does offer something really apt to this sector – full colour on the desktop! Since launching the ARKe we have seen an eruption of interest in the creative industries in our desktop printer.
In many ways I am predicting the rise of mid-class 3D printers in 2017– capable professional but affordable. With the ARKe we are striving to provide all the capability of a higher end printer at a lower price point- With the ARKe we see it like Putting a Porsche on the desktop so to speak!
And although the Mcor ARKe does not address the consumer market it is a product that is priming the market for the consumer – the printer offers many of the features that would be desirable in a consumer 3D printer – low cost material, full colour, reliability, user friendly and safety.
My wish list is another thing –
I hope that 3D printing will become less a fad and a more standard part of business. I think you will see more producing and less tinkering in the industry – I think companies will start to implement 3D printing in a real way spending less time on experimenting with the technology. This will certainly push the technology to higher levels of maturity.
I hope to see less expectations for high-volume production via 3D printing and more focus on utilizing it for prototyping with production combined. I hope to see greater adoption of the technology overall due to the growth in mid-priced printers which will certainly reduce one of the biggest barriers to entry into this market which is cost of printers and printing.
My hope is also to see more 3D printers in the classroom in order to encourage creativity and design, as well as problem solving. As I have often said, a revolution will happen in the classroom – we just need to make it happen by providing the right tools.
Overall I hope that 2017 will be a balanced year – that we will see progress in both industrial, education and more creative applications. Look forward to being part of it!