As many of you know, MakerBot has a new CEO (Jonathan Jaglom). And it’s no surprise that Jaglom has some definite ideas about how 3D printers will expand into the mainstream market. Even those of us who are casual observers have been predicting an increased penetration into the consumer market for quite some time.
It’s clear that Jaglom sees a gateway to the masses via educational institutions and workplaces. As the personal computer grabbed a foothold in schools during the 1980s, so the 3D printer is doing the same, at least on higher education campuses. The expectation is that this will trickle down to younger students as the technology becomes less expensive and more widely accepted.
A similar phenomenon is possible in the work environment. When 3D printers become the norm, workers in various industries will have the ability to prototype quickly, test out innovations, and deliver ideas to customers at a much more efficient rate.
Still, though, perhaps the largest hurdle yet cleared by the industry is the casual consumer. The question remains: Will everyone have a 3D printer at some point?
Obviously, usability and price help determine that. Jaglom and MakerBot still see a home market that has growth potential, with an emphasis on small conveniences, where consumers can fix broken products or replace worn-out parts by downloading and printing replacements directly from the manufacturer.
With time, modern conveniences like this will serve to make 3D printers essential. Those of us who are early adopters see this happening already. As with most technological advancements, it’s hard to imagine going back to a time when they didn’t exist. Sooner or later, this will be the case with 3D printers and the masses.
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