Top 3D Printing Trends to Watch For in 2015
By Bill Decker, Association of 3D Printing
First of all, happy new year to all of our 3D Printing Friends, Fans, and Enthusiasts. This industry is only set to rise in value, stature and participants in 2015.
Here are the top trends to watch for in 2015:
1) Big Big Big Big firms getting into the space. In 2014 we have seen the arrival of HP, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Home Depot, UPS Store and other giant firms. These firms bring with them professional management, custom software, distribution networks and money. The main 3 areas in our industry are of course machines, software and marketplaces. Some firms like Apple may be getting into all 3 spaces.
2) More and more materials. Most of the 2014 media centers around “wow, look at what we can 3D Print!” This will be true on 2015 as the industry takes on greater amounts of alloys and other materials. Expect to see more food, more medical uses, more hard to find parts and more rubber materials as a starter.
3) Investors will be more demanding. Investors now have a much broader choice of investment vehicles. Until now there were a handful of pure play 3D Printing firms to buy. And then there was the world of start ups; which can be feast or famine. Now an investor can simply buy some HP stock (which trades at a much lower p/e ratio then some of the larger established players).
4) More salesmen, less engineers in charge. Here we will see 3D Printing start ups run by people who know less about how to design something and more by people who know how to sell something.
5) Less acquisition by the big players. There was a rush to grab a lot of engineering focussed 3D Printing start ups. Now many of the acquirers will have to spend tome straightening out what they purchased and moving on with their core.
6) Greater foreign competition. With many of the patents expiring, we will see many more Chinese, Indian, Southeast Asian and South American 3D Printing machine firms.
7) Thinning of the herd. There are somewhere between 200 and 300 manufacturers of 3D Printers out there. They won’t all last. 2015 will be a year of normalization for many of these firms. Some will simply go out of business.
8) Law Suits to Abound. Welcome litigators. Welcome personal injury lawyers. Welcome IP lawyers. Welcome product liability lawyers. They are all coming as the field gets more mainstream.
9) Engineering talent sought. If you can use a 3D Printer, you become more marketable. If you can design a 3D Printer, you are even more needed. If you can alter and augment and build CAD drawings, you will be even more valuable in the job market.
10) Education will get into the act. More and more universities, colleges, community colleges, high schools, trade schools and primary schools will get 3D Printers, develop curriculum and educate people in the art, science and applications of 3D Printing. Businesses and Associations will also get into the act. The Association got into this space in 2014 with http://3dprintingmba.com and we have seen Stratasys develop its own coursework. With Apple’s entrance, we can bet that iTunes University will be featuring plenty of courses as well.
Bill Decker is the Chairman of the Association of 3D Printing and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org