Desktop 3D Is All the Rage
According to Gartner’s 2011 Hype Cycle Special Report, 3D Printing is nearing the Peak of Inflated Expectations. IANAA (I Am Not An Analyst) but it definitely seems like public interest in the field is blowing up:
1. A few weeks ago, MakerBot announced it will be taking $10m in venture capital. This is pretty huge. Considering their pre-investment output, I’m excited to see them come up with even greater (than sending Colbert’s head into space??) things in the near future.
2. Competition is steadily increasing. MakerBot is no longer the lone contender in the affordable 3D printers segment: the Dutch Ultimaker is another open source, DIY, RepRap-derived printer, while the Chinese UP! is a more commercial, plug-and-play version. This competition is driving innovation in the field, making 3D printing more capable and more affordable.
3. The RepRap blog declared a “tipping point of print quality” in a post that found output from a $550 RepRap Prusa to be superior to the same print on a $15k Stratasys uPrint. This is one case of a specific model printing on a highly-tuned machine operated by an expert, but one that is surely a sign of things to come (in 5-10 years, according to the Gartner report).