The wonders of 3D-printing has been praised for years. And 3D-prototyping stocks has been skyrocketing Elon Musk-like on the markets worldwide. But still 3D-prototyping has not really reached the consumer market. People are actually not that impressed when trying 3D-programs and sitting and waiting for a pretty scrappy small toy prototype that takes 4 hours to produce with the consumer 3D prototyping tools like Makerbots. So when will we all be able to be Philippe Starcks and produce our own phone shells, bikes and bath tubes in our household 3D workshop?
Like the “new economy” in the millennium shift, the hype in internet and telecom was overvalued short term but underestimated long term, the world of 3D prototyping is underperforming right now based on the expectations, but will probably be an essential part of every innovation department tomorrow and maybe even a standard product in the home of the middle class in 2025.
We had an epiphany lately when we met Leonardo Arbelaez at i3D in Medellin, Colombia. He used an iPad, the Structure Sensor (which is the first 3D sensor for mobile devices), Sketchfab (social software for avatars), and the basic version of the Makerbot to finalize a Mount Rushmore version of us in around half a day. It was amazing and a business idea in itself (making busts of people with the secret wish to be Napolean – like us…). Especially the 3D scanning part which has now really reached consumer price levels. This of course not only makes the Philippe Starck-wanna bees very happy. But also the world of piracy becomes amazed and now you do not only need the engineering drawing of something, you just 3D scan a design product and whoops… there you have it in your hand for the cost of a couple of hundreds of grams of plastic.
So if you are tired of waiting for 3D prototyping to become real… relax. It will come to your home. It will take some years more. But it will be like using clay for your kids in ten years.