3D Printing

One of my hobbies is too assess markets and businesses for opportunity and growth. A market that has been hot is 3-D printing. It’s not a new technology and I’m sure there were 60 minute segments on it 20 years ago. But in the past few years it’s made that leap as something available for only for manufacturers to being available for early-adopters in the consumer market.

The printers are now consumer friendly in size, price, and use. I admit, I have not researched or worked with these printers but assessing markets as a hobby doesn’t require me to. The WSJ had an article  about this very thing. So what is the market for 3-D printers? For industry it’s a no brainer, the opportunity for prototyping alone is enough to invest in this technology.

Where else is there potential? When exploring 3-D printer manufacturers there may be something there but we’ve already started to see consolidation of firms in that maturing market. And ask yourself if you like where the consumer inkjet printing market has gone? I for one do not find it compelling and am uninterested in manufacturers.

Where the real opportunity may be is in providing the designs, the directions, the code, to producing whatever widgets people want to have at the moment. One example is folks on my development team who have used their printers to make devices that allow their iPhone to rest on their monitor for stand-ups  when working remotely. The potential to provide designs, or for a design marketplace that’s modeled like Etsy may be a potential area.

They’re are downsides worth mentioning here as well and that’s waste. When these printers reach the consumer market and potential consumer scale what will be done with all these frankenstein experiements? Where will they go? Plastics are already a problem, especially in our oceans. We do have this wonderful young man making a difference there. In the meantime, if you like to tinker and design I think 3-D printing has potential. As far as for me, I’m out.

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