The 3D printing industry is currently worth $1.3 billion and is anticipated to reach $52 billion by 2020, according to startup advisory/Q&A site HighTable. While the technology was once only available to the medical, architecture, defense and automotive industries, present accessibility to the everyday Maker and do-it-yourselfer has made it easier than ever for consumers to 3D print on their own.
As mentioned in a previous In the Fold post, the cost of desktop 3D printers has come down in the past few years with companies like MakerBot making it possible for anyone to easily 3D print at home or with affordable services like Sculpteo that can take care of the printing portion of the process for you. But before you hit print, first comes the design.
“3D printing is a phenomenon. It’s taken 20-plus years for it to really develop, but the acceleration of the technology in the last few years has been incredible. You’re seeing everything from 3D printing in the home, to now seeing it show up in schools and neighborhoods where people can make their own things…It’s re-writing the fundamental equation of the industrial revolution, which was the thought that in order to have really high quality at low prices, you needed thousands of the same objects. All of a sudden, with these kinds of 3D printing and digital fabrication techniques, you can make precise, high quality things and do it in a small number at a reasonable price.”
The following infographic illustrates the process that anyone can employ to bring a custom concept to life with the use of design software and digital fabrication techniques:
The alternative often means compromising your wishes by settling for mass produced items.
If you think 3D printing is too complicated or only for manufacturing companies, think again. 3D design software, combined with 3D printers, make the 3D printing market fair game for everyone.