Feeds

Gartner forecasts pro 3D printer prices below $2,000 by 2016

Roving printing vans predicted for every shopping mall

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Analyst house Gartner has caught the 3D printing bug with its latest forecast on the future of the industry, and predicts enterprise-quality printers being cheap and plentiful by 2016.

"3D printing is a technology accelerating to mainstream adoption," said Pete Basiliere, research director at Gartner. "The hype leads many people to think the technology is some years away when it is available now and is affordable to most enterprises."

A glance through our recent 3D printer roundup shows you get a functioning system for around $2,000, or even less. By 2016, however, Gartner predicts the price of high-end printers that currently cost tens of thousands of dollars will have fallen to the same price point. The effect on usage could be similar to that of the PC after Phoenix opened up the IBM-clone market and made that platform affordable.

At that price point it makes financial sense for some companies to get their own 3D printer for making custom products such as jewelry or machine parts, Gartner forecasts, and the market will be helped by improvements in 3D scanning systems and modeling tools.

But $2,000 is still a lot of money for the average consumer in these cash-strapped times, so Gartner suggests that 3D printing's first flush will come as a bureau service – for which plans are already afoot. The normally staid analysts even take a flier on the idea of vans packed with 3D printers that can be deployed in shopping malls across the land.

"Customers would visit these self-contained vans parked in front of the store that contain two or three operating printers and watch parts being made (including possibly their own personalized 3D item). Alternatively, the consumer could order the custom or personalized part to be made while they are shopping, or to be available for pickup the next day," suggests Gartner's report.

Quite how accurate this is remains to be seen, but the suggestion did remind this hack of similar predictions for the fax machine back in the 1960s when Xerox patented and sold the first commercial systems.

Back then there were suggestions that there'd be fax machine shops in every city, with the documents themselves being delivered by messenger boys, as telegrams had been. But the increasing sophistication and rapidly falling price of fax machines killed this idea as businesses started buying in.

3D printing has a long way to go, particularly in terms of the materials you can and can't print – not to mention if you're legally allowed to go so, as in the case of firearms. But major patent trolls are also moving into the area (a good indicator of success these days), prices are falling, and the printer's sophistication is getting a lot better.

So if 3D printing is as useful as some of its advocates claim, don't start investing in a 3D printmobile just yet ("Print My Ride" perhaps), you might be outpaced by the technology. ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
US mobile firms cave on kill switch, agree to install anti-theft code
Slow and kludgy rollout will protect corporate profits
Leaked pics show EMBIGGENED iPhone 6 screen
Fat-fingered fanbois rejoice over Chinternet snaps
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Report: Apple seeking to raise iPhone 6 price by a HUNDRED BUCKS
'Well, that 5c experiment didn't go so well – let's try the other direction'
Rounded corners? Pah! Amazon's '3D phone has eye-tracking tech'
Now THAT'S what we call a proper new feature
Feast your PUNY eyes on highest resolution phone display EVER
Too much pixel dust for your strained eyeballs to handle
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft – A jolly little war for lunchtime
Free-to-play WoW turn-based game when you have 20 minutes to kill
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.