3D Printing and Mass Market – Get ready!

July 16, 2015
Written by Diogo Quental

3D Printing and Mass Market – Get ready!

About a month ago I posted “A tie in the desert and 3D Printing – Active or Passive?”, where I shared the opinion that it may take 5 years before mass market will see 3D Printers as a “must have” and not just a “nice to have” equipment.

It’s not only my personal vision, but also that of Gartner’s, who certainly have a far more comprehensive understanding about the adoption cycle than myself.

Well, not surprisingly, the situation didn’t change in the last month. However, I thought that it could be useful to further expand my previous analysis.

The main question to be asked is: what is missing for the mass market adoption? Is it lower prices? Better quality? Better product information?

Well, it is likely that all those factors are important, but none is the trigger for the mass adoption. What we mostly need is Time!

We know it’s a paradigm change we’re going through, where all are involved: suppliers, educators, legislators, think tanks… and customers. There’s a network effect where value of 3D printing for each player increases with each new player. Customers are likely to arrive in mass only when the network value is high.

The whole economy is working in parallel to let the world benefit from 3D Printing, but time is needed for all that work to be made available.

3D printers’ manufacturers won’t be pushing on their own the big wave of mass market. It will be all those you already interact with when you do your shopping, go to a restaurant, watch TV, go out at night,… , that will provide or show you 3D solutions for your daily problems.

3D printed photos, fashion accessories, and toys are likely to be among the first 3d printing uses to be massively adopted.

In this run for mass adoption the tipping point may be anticipated if world’s major influencers, like Cristiano Ronaldo or Oprah Winfrey decide (or are convinced) to adopt 3D printing themselves.

Otherwise, mass market adoption will take longer and will mainly result from the effort of big companies to focus their energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new (just as Socrates, the Greek philosopher, would have recommended them).
As Lars Espeter says in his Pulse post ““The Future Impact of 3D Printing”, companies may well have to analyse all the changes under the Theory of Evolution. Theory of Evolution says that those who are the quickest to adapt successfully to a changing environment have the highest chances of survival and being ahead of everyone else.

Big corporations should then get ready and play their part.

Here are some examples of what they’re doing:
Ford: Ford Launches Online 3D Printed Model Car Shop – Print Your Favorite Ford Car or Truck Today;
Nokia: Nokia Releases 3D-Printing Kit for Lumia 820 Cases;
UPS: 3D Printing Services Expanded Across Nation;
Microsoftis partnering up with other companies to define 3D printing files’ standards.

And some suggestions of what others could do:
IKEA: provide online 3D printable spare parts’ files;
Coca-Cola: provide online 3D printable files of objects that could combine with their cans or bottles to give them a second use;
McDonald’s: provide online 3D printable toys that could combine with toys of the Happy Meal sold in their stores;
Samsung: provide online the famous 3D printable spare part replacement that always breaks in every remote, of every brand;
Toyota, BMW, …: provide online 3D printable spare parts’ files;
Facebook: ensure that any 3D model posted could be directly 3D printed;
Disney: provide online exclusive 3D printable characters to their member community;
Louis Vuitton: provide online exclusive 3D printable fashion accessories;
Wal-Mart: provide online to their member community 3D printable accessories to be combined with physical objects sold – like the wall holder for the sweeper.

Other big brands like #Apple,  and #Google have been quite silent regarding 3D Printing, but are also certainly working on it.

What about you? Are you getting ready?

Original post: Linkedin