3D printers in our homes ‘still over five years away’


Rhiannon Williams

August 20, 2014

Consumers are still over five years away from owning 3D printers due to high pricing, new research suggests

3D printers are still over five years away from becoming a staple in our homes, new research has suggested.

The technology remains around five to 10 years away from mainstream adoption, despite significant advances being made in medical and business application, according to research firm Gartner.

“Today, approximately 40 manufacturers sell the 3D printers most commonly used in businesses, and over 200 start-ups worldwide are developing and selling consumer-oriented 3D printers, priced from just a few hundred dollars,” said Pete Basiliere, research vice president at Gartner. “However, even this price is too high for mainstream consumers at this time, despite broad awareness of the technology and considerable media interest.”

There are, Mr Basiliere points out, significant differences between 3D printing by organisations and within the home. The most pressing of these is the complex nature of the software, hardware and materials required for 3D printing compared to the comparatively simple mechanics behind a paper printer, he said.

The use of 3D printing within classrooms will be expensive and difficult to implement, particularly when compared to the rise of other educational technology, the report also found.

3D printers are slowly becoming more available for consumers to purchase, but are still priced too highly for many. Last year Maplin announced it would become the first high street retailer to sell a 3D printer for use within the home, offering the Velleman K8200, priced at £700. Currys also sells the Cube 3D printer, which retails at £1,070.

Last October Gartner predicted that by 2015, seven of the 50 largest multinational retailers will sell 3D printers through their physical and online stores.

The printers could be used to produce food, recreate organs and tissues, manufacture clothes and even fight warsin years to come.

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