3D Printing Hype

3D Printing Insider Myths and Truths


3D Printing And the Re Birth of US Manufacturing – Will 3D Printing Save Us?

Forbes has derided the notion of a U.S. manufacturing comeback as “a cruel political hoax.” And the New York Times recently ran an editorial by Steven Rattner entitled “The Myth of Industrial Rebound.”

A lack of detailed data has made it hard to assess what’s really going on within the U.S. manufacturing sector. To help remedy this, L.E.K. Consulting conducted a study of decision makers in 10 U.S. manufacturing industries, including aerospace and defense equipment, chemicals, industrial components, automotive equipment, and electronics. The study, which focused on large companies with more than $500 million in revenues, also involved in-depth interviews with high-level executives about the factors driving their decisions on where to locate their manufacturing. Will a consumer 3d printer change any of this?

The picture that emerges from this research is less black and white than either the cheerleaders or the naysayers would suggest. Overall, we see a modest improvement in U.S. manufacturing but not a wave of reshoring. More companies are investing in the U.S. or considering it as a location for new manufacturing facilities. But this is essentially a rebalancing after many years in which manufacturing shifted overwhelmingly to lower-cost nations such as China.manufacture chart

The media has been full of reports lately about a renaissance in U.S. manufacturing. The cheerleaders cite an array of heartening examples, including a $4 billion investment by Dow Chemical to boost its ethylene and propylene capacity on the U.S. Gulf Coast, an announcement by Flextronics of plans to create a $32 million product innovation center in Silicon Valley, and a decision by Airbus to build a $600 million assembly line in Alabama for its jetliners. These stories have prompted much talk about the “reshoring” of manufacturing jobs to the U.S. from China and elsewhere. Indeed, President Obama recently hailed “a manufacturing sector that’s adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s.”


3d printing now and in the future

3D printing is getting hyped right now, with a front page story in The Economist and a long article in the Times, but we actually think it is underhyped.

Even if it fails to meet some of the expectations of its boosters (and that’s not a foregone conclusion), 3D printing will still probably become an enormous industry and have a tremendous impact on how we buy, sell and produce things.

3D Printing Today
What does 3D printing look like today? According to several reports, the sale of 3D printers and associated services like software is already a billion dollar market. But nobody disputes that 3D printing is very far from a utopian 3D-printer-on-every-desk future.

Today most 3D printing technology uses too few materials, and is too crude in some ways, for most finished products we buy today.

Here’s what people mostly use 3D printing for these days:

Rapid prototyping. This was the early, and still the biggest business case for 3D printing. In plenty of industries from architecture to aerospace, the drawing board and computer screen only takes you so far. You need to build tangible prototypes to move forward. That used to be a big expense, and more importantly, a huge time-suck: there’s no reason a designer should have to wait days for someone to make a prototype until they can move forward. With a 3D printer, designers can have a rough prototype quickly and be much more productive. The word “designers” is making it sound like it’s a few guys in Brooklyn, but 3D printing is already changing the way we make buildings, cars and planes.

Specialty manufacturing. 3D printing is already being used for finished products, but still in specific niches. Some industrial components that would be costly or complex to manufacture are already being 3D-printed. One exciting area with huge potential is prosthetics, where 3D printer allow highly customized prosthetics to be made.

Hobbyists. One of the reasons why you hear about 3D printing is that there’s a small but vocal and growing hobbyists community who enjoy making small doodads. The hobbyist component of 3D printing doesn’t sound impressive, until you realize that the first people who cared about things like cars, planes and personal computers were hobbyists.
3D Printing Tomorrow
We can all picture the an utopian 3D printing future: it would basically look like Star Trek, where replicators can make anything with a mere voice command. This is the “3D printer on every desk and in every home” scenario.

But even if that scenario doesn’t pan out, 3D printing is going to be a huge industry because it’s much more efficient than traditional manufacturing. The main reason is that the current way to manufacture things is to chip away at a block or sheets of raw material, whereas 3D printing adds raw material as needed. Current manufacturing processes create as much as 90% waste. So even if 3D printing is limited to the business world, it’s going to be a huge industry.

And the printer in every home scenario isn’t that far-fetched either — only as far-fetched as “a computer in every home” was in 1975. Like any other piece of technology, 3D printers are always getting cheaper and better. 3D printers today can be had for about $5,000.

From Here To There
So, how do we get from here to there, what are the pitfalls, the opportunities and the big questions?

Today, 3D printers are too unreliable, slow, rough, and manufacturing large objects is cost-prohibitive. It’s hard to build objects with high polish. But early cars were slow, dangerous, and notoriously unreliable.

The biggest difference between today’s manufacturing and a 3D printing world is going to be the advent of mass customization. When each product is printed individually from software, there’s never going to be a reason to buy something that looks like something someone else owns. Companies will have to change not just their manufacturing but their product lines, marketing and even business models.

A serious question is whether 3D printing will be a “jobless industry.” History and economics teaches us that new industries often end up creating more jobs than they destroy, either directly (blacksmiths replaced by car repairmen) or indirectly through higher economic growth, but there’s a not-insignificant chance that 3D printing might be an exception. To be sure, 3D printing will create many jobs: in a world where anyone can make and sell most kinds of items, many people will profit and create new industries. But it’s not sure that these people will be more numerous than all the manufacturing jobs that will be lost.

Now Meet The Players
Who are the companies at the ground floor of this revolution? What sets them apart? What do they have in common with each other?

3D Systems
3D Systems makes many kinds of machines and software, but 3D printers are its biggest market segment. Smartly, it is tackling the customer market as well as the business market.

Associated Press
Autodesk makes all kinds of software used in industrial design, and is a leader in software for 3D printing. Before you can print anything, you need specialized software to design it, and Autodesk does that very well. Before she joined Yahoo, Carol Bartz was famous for leading Autodesk’s turnaround while battling cancer.

Another publicly-traded industrial design software company going into 3D printing is Dassault Systemes.

Desktop Factory was Bill Gross’ effort to make a sub-$5,000 3D printer

What does über-entrepreneur Bill Gross do when he’s not waging war on Twitter or saving the Earth from global warming? The Idealab founder used 3D printing to prototype things for his other companies, saw the potential of 3D printing, and co-founded Desktop Factory with the goal of making sub-$5,000 3D printers. Unfortunately the company didn’t make it and its assets were acquired by 3D Systems. Innovation is impossible without failure.

Makerbot Industries also has a charismatic founder — and sub-$5,000 3D printers

Makerbot is based in New York and makes “robots that make things.” It’s the 3D printing hobbyist’s company, and they build a cheap, basic 3D printers starting at $1,299.

Shapeways, a spinoff from Dutch conglomerate Philips, lets anyone upload their design to the site and order prints, or set up a store so that other people can buy from them. Think of it as Etsy for things that can be 3D printed. And conveniently, Shapeways has raised funding from Union Square Ventures and Index Ventures, also investors

Bespoke Innovations
It’s hard not to get excited about the potential for 3D printing when you think of its potential impact on prosthetics, and healthcare in general. As prosthetics get better and better, they enable people who need them to lead dramatically improved lives. And it’s easy to understand that the customization that 3D printing affords can make a huge difference here.

Sweet Onion Creations
Sweet Onion Creations is a great “3D printing 1.0” company: they help with one of the great uses of 3D printing of today, rapid prototyping. They help architectural firms and other companies prototype quickly with 3D printing, which saves them a lot of money, and also sell other services around that.

Freedom of Creation
Freedom of Creation is a design company. They make chairs, lamps, etc. using 3D printing. They’re a great example of the kind of companies that are going to flourish as 3D printing becomes more reliable and affordable.

Most design companies create designs for other companies and dream of making and selling their own things, but that’s usually a nightmare: handling manufacturing, distribution, marketing, rights, etc. The internet has largely improved the distribution and marketing part. 3D printing promises to do the same for manufacturing.

Contour Crafting
Contour Crafting wants to 3D print HOUSES. They want to build tractor-trailer-like 3D printers to take on construction sites, use them to build walls and other construction components, and then build your house like a giant lego. It’s mostly at the drawing board stage at this point, but it gives you an idea of what the future just might look like.

BONUS: HP and Google
HP has become practically synonymous with printers, and they’re starting to build 3D printers. Good.

And Google has free online software called Sketchup that makes it easy to create designs for 3D printing. Clearly this is an industry they want to be a part of and a story to follow.


3D Printing Has No Useful Consumer Application – According to One 3D Printing Analyst

There’s nothing really compelling from a consumer perspective. If you need a replacement part for your kitchen cabinet or latch on your dishwasher or oven, you can go to the hardware store or go online and buy that. You don’t necessarily have to build it”

“The same holds true with gifts, you could go to the store to buy a gift or go online but a lot of people are making their own things so there’s a place for having a 3D printer in the home.”
When asked what kind of applications would capture the imagination of consumers, he pointed to applications that support education.

“I think one of the best uses for 3D printers in the home is to compliment your child’s education. For example, projects that are being done for school, particularly for secondary education or university, where students are being exposed to design and engineering,” he said.

“If you have a child in high school or college, having the ability to print a model that you worked on as part of a classroom curriculum has real value.”

He went on to say that a compelling consumer application would surface by 2016.
While 3D printing has been around for more than 30 years, the industry has received a lot of attention with the recent availability of consumer printers.

A study by analyst firm Juniper Research suggested sales will jump from an estimated 44,000 this year to one million by 2018 as prices fall and more established printing vendors, such as HP, enter the market. Much of the 3D Printing Literature disagrees with the statements above.


3D Printing Hype Cycle From the Gartner Group

Gartner’s 2013 Hype Cycle Special Report provides strategists and planners with an assessment of the maturity, business benefit and future direction of more than 2,000 technologies, grouped into 98 areas. New Hype Cycles this year include content and social analytics, embedded software and systems, consumer market research, open banking, banking operations innovation, and information and communication technology (ICT) in Africa.

The Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies report is the longest-running annual Hype Cycle, providing a cross-industry perspective on the technologies and trends that senior executives, CIOs, strategists, innovators, business developers and technology planners should consider in developing emerging-technology portfolios.

“In making the overriding theme of this year’s Hype Cycle the evolving relationship between humans and machines, we encourage enterprises to look beyond the narrow perspective that only sees a future in which machines and computers replace humans. In fact, by observing how emerging technologies are being used by early adopters, there are actually three main trends at work. These are augmenting humans with technology — for example, an employee with a wearable computing device; machines replacing humans — for example, a cognitive virtual assistant acting as an automated customer representative; and humans and machines working alongside each other — for example, a mobile robot working with a warehouse employee to move many boxes.”

“Enterprises of the future will use a combination of these three trends to improve productivity, transform citizen and customer experience, and to seek competitive advantage,” said Hung LeHong, research vice president at Gartner. “These three major trends are made possible by three areas that facilitate and support the relationship between human and machine. Machines are becoming better at understanding humans and the environment — for example, recognizing the emotion in a person’s voice — and humans are becoming better at understanding machines — for example, through the Internet of things. At the same time, machines and humans are getting smarter by working together.” 3D printing influences the hype cycle. According to William Dante at the 3D Printing Association, he feels “the great game changer is 3D Printing. the adoption rates are faster than the internet, cloud computing and streaming video, combined. The best part is that 3D Printing uses all of this technology anyway.”


3D Printing Hype -Blog Discusses 3D Printing Reality

While 3D printing is arguably one of the hottest new categories in the technology industry — following mobility and competing with connected cars and wearable technology, the nuts and bolts of 3D printing have been around for decades. However, key patents, restricted materials and the high price of printers has kept the technology firmly within manufacturing for years.

The majority of key patents surrounding additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, have either expired or come close to expiry, which gives the industry the push required to advance. According to Bits to Atoms founder & Shapeways 3D printing designer Duann Scott, patents filed that detail the laser sintering manufacturing process used in 3D printing — which allow items to be sold on as finished products — have now expired, which could give rise to a host of new, innovative ways to use laser sintering and spur technology advances.

Now that 3D printing has gone beyond the world of manufacturing, we’re seeing a number of interesting and, frankly, odd uses of the technology.

However, while new patents will be filed as the industry evolves in the same manner as mobile technology, lawsuits will happen unless licensing agreements come in to play. Patent squabbles are part-and-parcel of the modern-day technology realm, and they are likely to crop up given the potential of the industry — and this will eventually hamper progress. As big names become involved, this may also prevent smaller players from growing and competing if they cannot afford high licensing costs to use intellectual property.

Despite a number of crowdfunding projects dedicated to the creation of cheap, at the moment, household 3D printers, their range, price and materials are limited. If a business wants to use 3D printing within its supply chain — whether to create products more cheaply or to manufacture individual components — unless they have thousands of dollars to spare to purchase their own kit, they are required to outsource to specialized companies.

A number of tech players are looking at how 3D printing can apply to their business models. General Electric is using 3D printing to produce parts for jet engines, Boeing has created parts for a variety of planes, Hersey’s is printing edible treats in different shapes and, in a darker fashion, Defense Distributed uses home 3D printers to create parts for eye thing.

The technology can be used to improve supply chains, but arguably healthcare is benefiting the most from recent interest in 3D printing. Light, cheap prosthetics and artificial bone printing are only two examples of how 3D printing is making healthcare more affordable, and if the technology is going to have serious impact in a market, I would argue that healthcare is the best bet. ….3D printing increases in popularity, these are the trends we predict to take the tech world by force.

In the consumer realm, firms such as Shapeways allow you to print off your own products — as expensive as it can be — but this is a niche market and is unlikely to expand beyond enthusiasts and those who currently enjoy the novelty factor. We also have to keep in mind that 3D printing in vast amounts often hogs huge amounts of energy, and so may not be viable for smaller businesses and projects beyond prototypes and tiny batches.

While any movement in markets that spurs on competition and innovation are generally beneficial, 3D printing will still only have limited use in the consumer sector. The technology has applications in healthcare, construction and manufacturing, but is unlikely to be suitable as a household product beyond small, novelty printers which may be fun to print out gifts or designs, but no more than a small amount.

The “next big thing” needs to insinuate itself into the consumer realm — as well as the majority of home and businesses to deserve the name. 3D printing, although exciting and interesting, is unlikely to fulfil this role, as it will be a household novelty rather than becoming a household necessity.

While valuable, 3D printing lacks the “revolutionary” label as it will remain in the manufacturing space for a long time to come, and unlike mobile devices — which I would label “revolutionary” due to market spread and often low cost — 3D printers require heavy investment for the kit, materials and maintenance — making it unsuitable for the average home. The technology is within a ‘hype’ stage, but eventually will find its niche within manufacturing and supply chains, novelty products and in the creation of prosthetics in healthcare. Valuable? Absolutely. Revolutionary? It’s your guess.


3D Printing Debate – Is 3D Printing Technology Clean or Dirty?

See our heroes inkjet and voxel argue on the the merits of “green” when it comes to 3D Printing Technology.


3D Printing Stocks – Why Are They Dropping?

For the better part of two years, the 3D printing stocks of 3D Systems (DDD), Stratasys (SSYS), and ExOne (XONE) saw unabated growth and soaring stock prices. The market wasn’t paying attention to reality or accepting any potential threats or risks. Remember that in a normal market, a stock or sector of stocks that rise significantly typically attracts competitors and larger entrants from similar sectors. To an extent, too much success can create the ultimate downfall, as competition leads to lower margins. At the same time, fast growth and substantial profits will also drive in other entrants even if somewhat based on perception more than reality.
Just this week, the sector finally got confirmation that one of the biggest threats is going to come to fruition. Printing technology leader, Hewlett Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) confirmed intentions to unveil revolutionary 3D products by June. The move was long speculated as a threat to the industry, but investors pushing the sector stocks up to absurd valuation multiples mostly ignored this certain risk.

With leader 3D Systems plunging some 40% since peaking at the start of the year, investors are faced with the reality that significant competition will begin in 2014. Long-term, new entrants will grow the size of the pie for the sector, but it doesn’t mean that 3D Systems or Stratasys will see higher stock prices anytime soon. Investors need to look no further than the natural gas shale boom and Chesapeake Energy (CHK) too see what happens to the leading stock when sector growth attracts more investments.


3D Printing Worries for Marketers – How Can You Protect Your Own Intellectual Property?

The premise that all things are conceivably digital content could be a powerful planning and development tool for marketers. If every product is ultimately intellectual property (a secret recipe or unique configuration of rare parts), how do you not just promote but protect it? If the product underlying your brand promise no longer exists in physical space, but literally pops into existence when consumers create it, what are you promising, exactly? As every aspect of the consumer purchase equation changes and/or shifts, doesn’t it affect your definition of what the “brand” is with which they’re engaging? Will 3D printing branding be a part of your brand?

The brands that survive this evolution will both embrace the steps along the way (like homemade packaging), and enable its advancement, perhaps even promoting it as a benefit to consumers. The rationale for considering such activities now is simple: Look what happened to the industries impacted by the last wave of digitization. Nothing is the same, and many categories are still struggling to define not only what their brands stand for, but how they can make money. Wasn’t it a lot more obvious to them that text could be created for free online, or music reduced to sharable binary bits? Even with that explicit warning, lots of brands were slow to respond, if not wholly unable to do so.

The time when your consumers use replicators like those on Star Trek may be in the future but, like most sci-fi, its not really fantasy as much as future fact imagined in the present. You need to come to terms with it.


3D Printing Law – Does Copyright Law Cover 3D Printed Materials?

The U.S. Constitution states that our patent and copyright law should “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.” Two centuries later, the debate about what to promote and what to protect through copyright law continues. Recently, the House Judiciary Committee began an overdue examination into whether the copyright laws need updating as it considered the legality of uploading copyrighted files to peer-to-peer networks. But politicians are overrun by armies of lobbyists and their PACs, all trying to strengthen rather than loosen the copyright monopoly Congress bestows. Thankfully, technology moves quicker than Congress and such innovations as the VCR and personal video recorder survived misguided legislative murder attempts.

Our challenge now is to make sure the 3D printing ecosystem does not die death from a thousand cuts.

Thingiverse, a website that allows people to post and share designs for 3D printers, has been fielding Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notices since at least 2011. Last year, the company that owns the rights to the Tintin comics issued a takedown notice to Thingiverse over a toy design uploaded by one of the site’s users. The original design – for a simple model based on a rocket from the comic – was removed, but another popped up in its place.

The Tintin rocket is a great, small-scale example of the potential for collaboration and innovation in 3D printing. Though the original design was removed from Thingiverse, another user posted a similar design for a Christmas tree ornament based on the rocket. And someone else modified the idea so it could be illuminated, and then redesigned it again so other users could personalize the ornament with their names or other text. Out of just one idea, at least three new products were created, each improving on the last and providing a product that wouldn’t have otherwise been available. Innovation in 3D printing isn’t just about replicating things. It’s about taking an idea and modifying it to make something even better.

The same example illustrates just how inadequate our copyright system can be at protecting intellectual property, while fostering an environment that allows innovation to thrive in the wake of new technologies. Rights holders need to move away from suing or threatening to sue every potential copyright violator, and embrace a system that makes it easy and affordable for at-home 3D printers to access legal and licensed designs. iTunes’ licensing model is a good example. Just as the recording industry has adapted to digital music downloads and found revenue in other areas like touring and merchandise, the creative content and manufacturing industries will have to adapt to 3D printing. And we’ll all be better off for it, with more access to unique, innovative products and services.

It took more than 20 years from the Copyright Act of 1976 to the establishment of “safe harbors” with the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998. Yet the Internet now puts the world within our reach in ways no one imagined 40 years ago, that were just glimmers of possibility at the turn of this century when DMCA was passed. We can’t let another 20 years go by before we enact appropriate policies that work in today’s constantly changing Internet era.


3D Printing Doubts – 5 More Reasons 3D Printing Will Fail

1. Awaiting the breakthrough consumer model

Widespread consumer adoption will depend on 3D printers dropping in price. Currently, printers less than $1,000 use a DIY-style kit that requires assembly of the machine itself and they often don’t replicate the CAD designs accurately. But, relatively cheap 3D printers do exist. At $299, the Printrbot Simple is an affordable option, though it is very basic and can’t print high-quality products. Also well under $1,000 is RepRap’s open-source line of printers, which have to be assembled separately. The Cubify Cube is about $1,300 and probably the best desktop option since it connects to wifi, but its plastic filament can’t make anything too sturdy.

For the most part, anything bigger or better than these costs well into the thousands (or even tens of thousands) of dollars. The MakerBot Replicator 2 runs at about $2,200, which was also the roundabout figure for a top-of-the-line computer in the 1980s. Until reliable, convenient, sleek 3D printers hit the market, the revolutionary effects of the technology will be stymied.

2. Expense of SLS printers

Major patents on selective laser sintering (SLS) printers expired in January, so perhaps the prices of these machines—which run as high as $250,000 will decrease. When the patents on fused deposition modeling (FDM) printers expired, there was an explosion of open source FDM printers that led the technology to become a hobby. The best example was MakerBot, which launched as the most well-known FDM printer almost immediately after the FDM patent expired.

SLS printers offer the ability to print with more materials such as glass, metal, plastic, and ceramic, but with the high-powered lasers comes a higher manufacturing price. It may never be as cheap as an FDM machine, and therefore may take a longer time to catch on in the consumer market, if at all.

3. Patents and legal murkiness

This year, many patents on 3D printers will expire, possibly creating more competition, innovation, and lower prices. However, there are still quite a few overlapping patents out there, however, which causes a lot of murkiness. During the last decade, the Patent and Trademark Office has received more than 6,800 3D printing patent applications. Since 2007, almost 700 patents have been filed annually.

Another intellectual property issue comes with what the machines are printing. Right now, it’s easy to log on to Shapeways and download a CAD file of just about anything. But soon, there will be lawsuits and competition between brands over knockoffs and copyright infringement.

4. The usefulness gap

Sure, plastic action figures, iPhone cases, and Star Wars-themed novelties are fun to design and print with a relatively affordable desktop 3D printer like the Cube, but they aren’t exactly impactful on our everyday lives, nor are they convincing consumers the machines are a worthy investment.

“There’s no compelling application in the present time because anything you can print on a 3D printer, besides from things that are truly customized, you can buy at a store,” said Pete Basiliere, lead Gartner analyst for 3D printing. He said a compelling consumer application—something that can only be created at home on a 3D printer—will hit the scene by 2016.

5. Plastic filament isn’t sturdy enough

For the foreseeable future, the cheapest and most accessible 3D printers will be FDM. These are the desktop printers that use PLA and ABS plastic, which easily melt and fit small molds. However, the plastic isn’t sturdy and not many household products with moving parts can be created from the material. Printers will need to use carbon composites or metals to become more useful to the average consumer, as well as manufacturers.


5 Reasons 3D Printing Won’t Catch On

1. Before the majority of Americans could wrap their heads around how 3D printing works, a man named Cody Wilson designed, printed, and successfully fired a 3D printed gun. The STL file was available for free on his website the next day, and 100,000 people downloaded it before the U.S. Department of State ordered him to take it down. Since an all-plastic 3D gun probably won’t catch on, other companies are working on using SLS technology to print a metal one. So, in December 2013, Congress voted to renew an expiring ban on plastic firearms that could slip past metal detectors, though it didn’t add any new restrictions on plastic guns. Philadelphia was the first city to ban 3D printed firearms. A Chicago lawmaker wants to make it illegal to use a 3D printer to make gun parts unless the user has a federal gun manufacturer’s license.

Wilson’s plastic 3D printed gun showcased these loopholes in the law and caused an uproar across the country about the potential dangers of 3D printing technology. Whether you agree with it or not, the ability to easily print and distribute weaponry will surely cause skepticism about this technology for some time.

2. 3D printers aren’t that user-friendly

Setting up a 3D printer will need to be as easy as hooking up a traditional HP printer. The 3D printer needs to have fewer wires than a television and fewer buttons than a computer for it to become a household electronic, and right now, that’s not the case. The printers use high-voltage power supplies and specialized equipment and parts. Some of the cheapest printers can’t even connect to wifi and most have low resolution.

Because of the hype around the potential and the cute plastic toys that they produce, 3D printers have come across as easier and more useful than they actually are. The best products that have been created—think tools, musical instruments, car parts—are made using huge, high-end printers that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those sub-$1,000 machines that sit on a desk just aren’t going to be as productive.

3. Complex design software

Downloadable files from Thingiverse and Shapeways are easy to get, but they are not moderated and therefore may not work on every type of printer. If you want to design your own file, you need a working knowledge of CAD design. Setting up the model and using the printer takes quite a bit of patience and time, which is another reason the technology has primarily been used by enthusiasts up to this point.

4. 3D printers are still slow

3D printers are great for mass customization, but are still too slow for manufacturing lots of objects. To change the manufacturing industry, the parts need to be printed in minutes, not hours. It currently takes anywhere from several hours to several days to print, depending on the size of the model and the quality of the printer. Receiving an order from Shapeways, the company that customizes and 3D prints a variety of products, can take up to two weeks, depending on the materials used.

5. Safety concerns

The FDM printers, which use plastic filament, are relatively safe to use—they are often made for desktops and contain both the mold and the residue—but they aren’t foolproof, and they reach very high temperatures.

Powder-based printers are messy and potentially explosive depending on what is being made from them. They operate at extremely high temperatures and produce waste. It’s not something a consumer would want in their home office. Indoor air quality and the emissions from 3D printers, particularly SLS printers, are also cause for concern.



3D Printing Stocks Downgraded – Stock Analysts Feel 3D Printing Stocks are Overvalued

At Bank Of America, The analysts wrote, “We are downgrading shares of 3D Systems to Underperform with a PO of $65 for the following reasons (1) Organic growth rate peaking in 2014 and incremental topline growth will come at the expense of margins, (2) We view the increased investments as a catchup in spend necessary to stay competitive rather than driving incremental growth, (3) A lot of the M&A while additive to near term growth, in our opinion, will result in diluting LT organic growth and adds integration and execution risk in the interim, (4) A lot of high profile partnerships sound exciting (Motorola Mobility, Hasbro, Hershey’s etc.) but success will be predicated on widespread adoption and margin performance driven by such ventures will likely be challenged.” William Dante, of the Association of 3D Printing feels that: “3D Printing Marketing is still an issue, and those firms who can market and sell will be the eventual winners.”
3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) opened at 80.74 on Monday. 3D Systems has a 1-year low of $27.88 and a 1-year high of $97.28. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $81.10 and its 200-day moving average is $67.56. The company has a market cap of $8.298 billion and a price-to-earnings ratio of 174.76.

Several other analysts have also recently commented on the stock. Analysts at Citigroup Inc. set a $78.00 price target on shares of 3D Systems in a research note on Wednesday, February 12th. Separately, analysts at Zacks downgraded shares of 3D Systems from a “neutral” rating to an “underperform” rating in a research note on Monday, February 10th. They now have a $64.40 price target on the stock. Finally, analysts at William Blair reiterated an “underperform” rating on shares of 3D Systems in a research note on Thursday, February 6th. Three analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, four have given a hold rating and eleven have given a buy rating to the company. 3D Systems has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $86.24.

3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) is a holding company that operates through subsidiaries in the United States, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.


3D Printing Debate – Why Should People Own a 3D Printer?

There has been a lot of hype on 3D printers at last year CES and now this year I saw tons of competitors offering low-end models as well as high-end professional desktops. XYZprinting Inc. from Taiwan, a new entrant revealed their da Vinci 3D printer with a starting price of just $499, cost as much as a color laser printer a few years back. It is a simple plug-and-play design for small business and personal use. Now I am not sure how often if you need to use one if you’re not a designer. The nice thing is it allows access to a database for free 3D models and 12 different color filaments to choose from. I guess you can print your iPhone case, earings or even chess set. Still hard to think of a reason to own one at home other than novelty.

On the higher end,ChefJet 3D printer and the ChefJet 3D Pro printer costing between $5,00 to $10,000. There is the Solidoodle’s 4th generation printer priced at $999 which I have not tried out. And there is the MakerBot’s Replicator priced at $2,899 but this year they introduced a compact Replicator Mini which will cost $1,375. Another 3D printer maker Cube will be introducing a new model which will be priced under $1,000. We can see these printers selling below $500 in a year as they will get aggressive in pricing to gain market share. The quesion remain what is the reason to own one?

The real money is in the business market such as the ability to print spare parts, or complete part without assembly and complex inner structures too difficult to be machined. 3D printing makes it possible to manufacture pretty much anything in just 5-10 hours depending what you’re printing, and, as you can surely imagine, this capability would come in very handy in product parts which sometimes take days to locate and ship due to inventory supply issues. A piece of equipment breaks and your repair technician can print it for you.

3D printing has attracted a lot of interest but still at it’s infancy, the material science necessary for a lot of these claims about printing tooth or even human organs just isn’t there yet. You can’t use the same plastic or metal for different parts. It comes down to different tolerances and they are critical. So we’re a few years away. And we will get there


3D Printing Industry History and 3D Printing Predictions

Where was the industry and where is the 3D Printing Industry heading? Bioprinting, scanning and rapid manufacturing are all trends. Will they be mainstream in the next decade?