Numbers tell us that the 3D printing trends are slowing down… But there’s an important player rising: Crowdfunding.
For much of last year, 3D printing sales were on the rise. In fact, it rose 90 percent year-on-year. If 3D printing is all over the news, and Fablabs are popping up in every major city, then why hasn’t it yet become mainstream?
The number of personal 3D printers shipped in Q2 2015 was 25 percent higher than last year. Seems strong? Not quite so. Over the previous four quarters, unit shipments had risen by over 90 percent year-on-year. So: Q2 2015 marked a clear decline in unit shipments Since then, on any given day, at least one article is published on how 3D printing is over-hyped and just another fad. Reading up on major companies may even strengthen that idea; the second quarter of 2015 marked their first ever sequential decline in unit shipments.
Crowdfunding drives Innovation in Consumer 3D Printing
However, the problem doesn’t seem to be that people are tired of printing; there appears to be a new hero of 3D printing.
Kickstarter, Indiegogo and other crowd-funding platforms 3D printers are on the rise. Tiko 3D raised almost $3 million to create their (incredibly affordable) $179 3D printer. Over 16.000 units were pre-ordered. Kickstarter has a steady stream of successful 3D printers: the Morpheus, the Beast, the BigBox, mostfun Pro and many more. Also services are on the rise on Kickstarter, like 3D printed furniture, new hotends and not to mention of the 3D-printed games or toys.
Sure, all the Kickstarter 3D printers will have to deliver first. But if they do, they are able to give 3D printing a significant push. So the real change seems to be the shift from large manufacturers to new developers. High profile companies, including Stratasys and 3D Systems, have little to do with the recent increases in 3D sales. In fact, both continue to struggle compared to past years.
This should come as no surprise, as 3D printers are not quite a household item. There are no housewives going to the store to pick up the popular printer from a household name. 3D printers, makers, and enthusiasts have the benefit of being part of a very specialized market.
3D Print Even If You Don’t Own A Printer
If you want a printer, you simply must do your research and find what you want, and it’s the small developers making products that the people want. Hopefully, this means the field of printing will continue to attract movers, shakers, and creative creators of all kinds from around the world.
Even if you don’t own a printer yourself, you still can use the services provided by Shapeways, i.Materialise and Sculpteo for your 3D printing needs. And if you are looking for the best price available, All3DP has a 3D printing price comparison service right at your fingertips.
License: The text of "The Future of 3D Printing is Crowdfunded" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.