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Gartner Says 3D Printers Will Cost Less Than $2,000 By 2016 170

colinneagle writes "Widespread adoption of 3D printing technology may not be that far away, according to a Gartner report predicting that enterprise-class 3D printers will be available for less than $2,000 by 2016. 3D printers are already in use among many businesses, from manufacturing to pharmaceuticals to consumers goods, and have generated a diverse set of use cases. As a result, the capabilities of the technology have evolved to meet customer needs, and will continue to develop to target those in additional markets, Gartner says."
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Gartner Says 3D Printers Will Cost Less Than $2,000 By 2016

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  • It's interesting how much of the technology for Skynet is being built by humans as tools.

    It's very reminiscent of this []

    In simplified form, this is the clay hypothesis: Clays form naturally from silicates in solution. Clay crystals, as other crystals, preserve their external formal arrangement as they grow, snap, and grow further. Clay crystal masses of a particular external form may happen to affect their environment in ways that affect their chances of further replication. For example, a 'stickier' clay crystal is more likely to silt a stream bed, creating an environment conducive to further sedimentation. It is conceivable that such effects could extend to the creation of flat areas likely to be exposed to air, dry, and turn to wind-borne dust, which could fall randomly in other streams. Thus - by simple, inorganic, physical processes - a selection environment might exist for the reproduction of clay crystals of the 'stickier' shape.

    There follows a process of natural selection for clay crystals that trap certain forms of molecules to their surfaces (those that enhance their replication potential). Quite complex proto-organic molecules can be catalysed by the surface properties of silicates. The final step occurs when these complex molecules perform a 'Genetic Takeover' from their clay 'vehicle', becoming an independent locus of replication - an evolutionary moment that might be understood as the first exaptation.

    Despite its frequent citation as a useful model of the kind of process that might have been involved in the prehistory of DNA, the 'clay hypothesis' of abiogenesis is not so popular, as with several other abiogenesis hypotheses. As it was current and fashionable at that time, Richard Dawkins used it as the example model of abiogenesis in his 1986 book The Blind Watchmaker.

    Dawkins poetically talks of a future "robot Cairns-Smith" working out that life has gone from being silicon based to carbon based and back again and each transition has vastly increased the speed at which it can develop. I.e. from the pseudo heredity of clay based 'life' to DNA protein based life and Darwinian evolution and finally to machines

  • If it only gets me something with clunky 0.2mm resolution or worse... meh.

    I want something that is precise enough to print detailed D&D miniatures and creatures, which means that the smallest details need to be in the neighborhood of about 20microns or so.

    • by suutar ( 1860506 )
      that's some serious detail. I'd have thought 200 microns would be good enough. though admittedly I haven't actually gotten one printed yet; it may suck after all.
      • I regularly print at 0.1 mm layer height, and generally find that it could be better. If I had the patience for it, I'd go for 0.05 or 0.025.

        • by suutar ( 1860506 )
          That's pretty sweet. I see you use a reprap-type printer. What modelling software do you use? For character setup I like daz studio or poser but those are both designed for rendering, not for watertight solids, and my attempts to come up with something to generate a real solid have been... less than effective so far.
          • I use Blender for anything organic or smooth, or anything that can be done with a bit of simple vertex-pushing. I might look into Openscad for customizable or technical designs, or Sketchup for anything architectural that doesn't have to be very precise.

            There's also tools for repairing STL files. You should ask on #reprap on freenode IRC about it. I don't need it very much, forgot the name.

    • by bmcage ( 785177 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @04:39AM (#43310019)
      I print quality D&D miniatures with my Makerbot Replicator. That's with 0.125 mm layers. If you give it an acetone vapour bath, they are smooth too. Problem with additive layer however is not quality of these prints, it is the impossibility to print overhang, what you need for nice feet, hands sticking out, ... . So that is the problem, not the layer thickness. The stereographic prints might fix this, or two material print with one material that dissolves in water. I can't print dual head two materials on my Replicator on 0.125 layers, nor can I do it as nicely as needed on thicker prints.

      Oh, and this replicator was less than 2000$.

    • If it only gets me something with clunky 0.2mm resolution or worse... meh.

      I want something that is precise enough to print detailed D&D miniatures and creatures, which means that the smallest details need to be in the neighborhood of about 20microns or so.

      Maybe this is what you are looking for? []

      I am not associated with either sandboxr or kickstarter.

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        That's cute, but the printing technology for that looks still way too course for very finely detailed miniatures.
  • by no-body ( 127863 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @12:41AM (#43309405)
    How about the ink? Probably the same game as with current printer ink cartridges - ongoing profit maker...ripoff

    Questionable if it's fair right now and in future???
  • Plastic stuff? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DogDude ( 805747 )
    I can't imagine needing a lot of poor quality plastic bits for anything. If I need any now, it's much cheaper and easier to buy them from China.
    • Things I have printed on my Prusa...wall mountable backplates for my 6 monitors, table stand for my Nexus 7, clips for freezer bags, a bobble-head version of me (we scanned our faces in grad school). If I could print an imagination for you at some point, I'd be happy to snail-mail it over.
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

        So... All stuff that would have been cheaper to just buy from China. Like he said.

        I could download, print and bind a book today. It would be cheaper to just buy the damn thing in most cases and I'd end up with a better product.

        • by lxs ( 131946 )

          Not really. Traditional methods are cheaper if you need 1000 of something. If you need one or ten of something then 3D printing starts to make sense.
          As for the quality of the prints, I remember owning and using a 6 pin dot matrix printer back in the 1980s. That one would never replace real prints. A decade later small laser printers could produce prints that rivaled traditional print jobs.

      • by DogDude ( 805747 )
        I can already buy anything I can imagine, thanks. By the way, how much imagination did it take to buy a very expensive gadget to print some generic plastic stuff worth pennies?
  • by jabberwock ( 10206 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @01:08AM (#43309519) Homepage
    ... make forecasts of technological advancements, market adoption rates, production scale and resultant pricing all the time. Quite often, they come up with them pretty much the same way you would: By asking around.

    McKinsey, same product, often the same methodology.

    And it is *astonishing* how many of those reports you cannot find on the Internet later, when you want to make fun of them.

  • 2016? (Score:5, Informative)

    by speedplane ( 552872 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @01:21AM (#43309569) Homepage
    There are a ton of 3D printers on the market right now for less thank $2k, many for less than $1k. They are fully assembled machines too, not just a DIY hobby toys. I don't really understand how this article is news.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      Gartner exists to tell companies what they want to hear. You say to them "we make 3D printers but they cost about $10k, maybe in a few years they will be down to $2k and everyone will buy one". They do a nice press release saying they have "studied" the situation and concluded that in a few years 3D printers will be available for under $2k and everyone will buy one.

      In other words they try to modify the world to suit your companies desires and timescales by issuing bullshit studies and articles to major sour

  • by Skythe ( 921438 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @01:35AM (#43309595)
    It may not be exactly what Gartner envisioned, but there's the RepRap project which aims to be able to fully self replicate. At least check it could print 50% of it's own parts, and they are working on being able to print electric circuitry next - []
  • Or sub $20k, for that matter, but I don't think I'll see it by 2016.
  • I'm waiting for 3d printers that can print metal.

    • If you used metal the same way plastic (adding it on bit by bit) is used in 3D printers it wouldn't be very strong at all. Metal needs to be casted in order to form a strong structure.
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Friday March 29, 2013 @03:14AM (#43309817) Journal

    If Gartner predicts it will be a success, it won't. They never ever been right on anything. You would think that even a broken clock is right twice a day but Gartners clock isn't.

    And for all the 3D printing fans, right now there is a cheap home production system out there. It is called the sewing machine. It used to be common in every house because producing your own clothes was cheaper and you could make what you needed, when you needed it. Brilliant! There was an entire eco-system around it with fabric stores and even stores that sold nothing but buttons.

    Do you own a sewing machine? No? Why not? Because it takes to much skill? Because it is cheaper to buy crappy fall apart stuff made in sweatshops around the world and marked up 1000%?

    Well then what makes you think 3D printing will take off as a home production system? Yes yes, you can print your own gun... GUN. SINGLE. So you going to buy a 2000 dollar printer to print a 100 dollar gun... And if you really want to make your own gun, there are already plenty of metal working tools out there that can do it for you. You can already buy all the tools to build a gun. Even in countries with strict gun laws.

    3D printing is an amazing invention and will completely change how things are prototyped or how unique items are created. BUT it is the sewing machine, hand sewing machines are STILL used by those prototyping clothing AND artists that want to make something unique. The rest of us buy our crap of the rack.

    Same as I don't have a vegetable patch, don't grow my own herbs in a window box, don't make my own soap, don't gather my own firewood, don't cut my own bread, don't generate my own electricity, don't make own compost for plants, fix my own car, paint my apartment.

    Hell, how many here even build their own PC anymore? And if you go "oh but that is way to complex and time consuming"


    I actually have used 3d printing services to create some cases for Arduino projects. I used a hobby club where a member helped me (well, did all the work for me really) and created some cases from scratch. Very nice, very useful but really, no different from me going to a tailor and asking for a suit to be made (which is not as expensive as people think it is). I don't have a sewing machine and I don't see a future of me owning a 3D printing machine. Why would I? I can pay someone to do it or me, and they can then afford a much better one then I can afford and we are all happy and laughing at Gartners made up statistics.

    • I would mod you up if I could. Why I do some things, Gardening, I do that because I enjoy it, not because I'm saving money. Although people think that. I could see getting a CNC machine (now that I saw it pointed out in here it was cheap) not because I think I will save money, but I love working with wood. I'm making a planter box, and yes that is saving me money. 130-200 for the size I'm making with materials for 40. But, I wouldn't expect people to know how to think it up. My fiance I don't think understa
    • Similarly, I have a Reprap printer. It takes work and knowledge to get it to work and keep working, needing attention like a spoiled little baby, but it's fun to mess around with. I also built my computer from parts, about 4 or 5 years ago. It still serves every purpose I use it for. It also has its share of weirdness sometimes, but I can deal with it.

      To those with the patience for it, DIY can be a beautiful kind of project to work on. To those without, surely there's someone nearby who has the right skills

    • The substantial difference between a sewing machine and a 3d printer is that you cannot simply feed a sewing machine a design and have it spit out an article of clothing. As near as you get to that is embroidery machines which you must carefully set up, which will embroider onto a garment or piece of material. Most of them don't even make their own thread changes, but hobbyists are now building 3d printers with multiple extruder heads, or extruder heads in which materials are mixed directly before extrusion

      • We've (humanity) been injection molding for about 100 years now and nozzles still freeze off.

        Printing is just an easier problem. There are CNC sewing machines, it's just that they aren't used much as people are more versatile and cheaper.

        Sewing is a better analogy to 3d printing then printing is.

        And even with printing, nobody home prints paperback books.

        • There are CNC sewing machines, it's just that they aren't used much as people are more versatile and cheaper.

          My understanding is that they are only really capable of doing simple jobs on their own, and for anything interesting you need humans to do a lot of complex setup anyway. That's not really much of a CNC sewing machine, is it? It's more semi-automatic than automatic.

          Sewing is a better analogy to 3d printing then printing is.

          3d printing of the type commonly done with cheap printers today is so much simpler than sewing that it doesn't even bear comparing.

          And even with printing, nobody home prints paperback books.

          False. People print out books' worth of information all the time. Most of the time they bind them with a binder. I

          • I'll see your home book printing and raise you hand made paper and caligraphy. Some people have too much time on their hands (see below). Those aren't paperback books.

            I haven't printed a whole book worth of information (at a time) sense I started paying for my own printer supplies.

            On the flip side I know a dude with a burster and an industrial scanner. Last I talked to him he was working on posting a metric shitload of obsolete computer docs and falling behind the queue. He's weird even by geek standar

      • Your assuming that they will become ubiquitous. Justify why this would happen, beyond just that it could? Given the quality of the FDM process, why would a user want to sit back and wait 4 hours for a towel hanger for their bathroom that will look like it was made up of small strings of plastic?

        FDM based 3d printers will NEVER be trouble free. The companies which sell them sell you contracts with technicians who are on call to maintain them. It is a glue gun with a small hole. And it prints out in a fe

    • You make some good points on sewing machines, guns and Gartner, and I would have to add that the inevitable cost of "toner" is another in to make on your side of things. I really have to disagree with how far you take things against the the do it yourself ethos though.

      I'm pretty far from what you would call a prepper, yet I have my own vegetable patch, grow my own herbs, fix my own car, gather my own herbs, make my own compost and paint my own house. You might think I live in the country, however I live in

  • Holy shit, those coke-snorting peons at Gartner still have a pulse? (I remember trying to explain the importance of - and future prospects for - 3D accelerators... to some of their analysts back in '95 or '96... they didn't get it and damn were they sure I didn't!) ROFL...

  • I am going to wait before I buy one of these 3D printers. Once they can print 256Gig SSD drives, they will be worth buying...

  • The difference between consumer-class and enterprise-class 3D printers are minor. Controlled temperature environment is one of them.

    As soon as one of the small fish is advertising features of the so called enterprise-class 3D printers, they are sued into oblivion by Stratasys and others using their patents.

Bell Labs Unix -- Reach out and grep someone.