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Gartner sees a big future for 3-D printing supplies and services

There are a lot of companies, analysts, and researchers who believe 3-D printing technology is going to be huge in the future. 3-D printers use various forms of media to print 3-D physical objects that you can hold and use for various tasks. Research firm Gartner recently issued a report claiming that early adopters of 3-D printing technology could gain an innovation advantage over rival firms.

Gartner says that enterprises should begin experimenting with 3-D printing technology as a way to improve traditional product design and prototyping. Gartner sees 3-D printing as having the potential to allow for the creation of new product lines and markets. The company also believes that 3-D printing will be available to consumers via kiosks and print shop style services creating new opportunities for retailers.

Cheaper 3-D printers will lower the cost of entry into manufacturing in the same way that e-commerce lower the barriers to the selling of items according to Gartner. The company believes that 3-D printer technology will move from the niche markets to broader acceptance thereby reducing the price of 3-D printing devices. According to Gartner, by 2016 enterprise class 3-D printers will be available for under $2,000.

“We see 3D printing as a tool for empowerment, already enabling life-changing parts and products to be built in struggling countries, helping rebuild crisis-hit areas and leading to the democratization of manufacturing,” said Pete Basiliere, research director at Gartner.

Gartner sees a future with multinational retailers supplying consumers and making money by selling printers and print supplies as well as individual 3-D printed pieces. Another possible way to make money with 3-D printing technology would be roving display vans that visit a retailer store where consumers can order customized 3-D items while they shop.

Source: Gartner

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In the future...
By CaedenV on 3/29/2013 4:50:53 PM , Rating: 2
Growing up I always wanted to watch some sort of Star Trek show that gave a slice of life of what it would be like to move from our world to the Star Trek world. I always imagined the invention of the replicator to have brought huge amounts of tumult because you would essentially be replacing some 90% of the world's jobs (manufacture, design, R&D, distribution, retail, and customer service) with a box that essentially takes electricity (something necessarily cheap in the future), and makes product in your home.
When I first heard of 3D printers for home use some 3-4 years ago I was blown away, but the tech was prohibitively expensive, and only capable of making relatively small things. Now you can make things up to an 8" cube for a very low entry cost, and the plastic and power costs are not terribly high either. It seems like it is the first step towards building a replicator device, and I am pretty stoked to see this part of history unfold!

Now as an adult I have seen a ton of potentially disruptive technologies come, but have a relatively small effect on the market. I thought that online shopping would easily bankrupt electronics stores and some other retail spaces, but it hasn't, and in fact I give my local Microcenter more and more business because they tend to have better sales than Newegg lately. I thought that cheap and easy media streaming services like Pandora and Netflix would destroy physical media sales of things like CDs and DVDs, but it hasn't, and now physical media and drive space is so cheap that I am considering going back to physical media purchases and making my own private media streaming service for my home. I thought that distribution services like Steam and OnLive would have killed off game stores, but they have found a way to stay in the game so far, and when next gen consoles push direct purchasing I am sure that physical stores will find a way to continue on.
Now in my mind I cannot help but think that the ability to download, customize, and print common objects would simply destroy things like the gift giving, kids toy, and nick-nack markets... but I am sure that I will be wrong there too, and somehow places will still manage to get along just fine. But still, in my mind I would think that the $500 home printers available today would make a significant impact in the realm of retail stores, and Chinese factory orders.

Anywho, I am super excited about this technology getting bigger and cheaper so quickly! To think that when I was a kid it was entertaining to watch the old ribbon printer do it's thing, and to try and guess when it would print the next line of text (or ascii art). In a few years when my kiddos are old enough to start playing with this type of tech it should be super cheap, and we will have all sorts of fun with it! $2000 for an industrial quality printer in 3-5 years? Why wouldn't I get one for home so I can build my little boy all the action figures he could ever want, or build an awesome doll house for my little girl? In the long run it is probably cheaper, plus I can make it personal which is way cooler than something that millions of other kids will have.

"If you mod me down, I will become more insightful than you can possibly imagine." -- Slashdot
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