Dec.30, 2012

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) released the 2013 edition of Five Technology Trends to Watch, an annual publication that examines five prominent technology trends expected to influence the consumer electronics (CE) industry in the years ahead.

This year, a few key tech trends based on consumer market research have been examined: (1) the future of 3D printing; (2) next-generation TVs and displays; (3) the evolution of the audio market; (4) the mobile revolution in Africa; and (5) technology in education.

The 2013 edition says 2013 could turn out to be the year of 3D printing. It quotes a research report by Wohlers Associates that the market for 3D printing in 2011 was about US$1.7 billion and it will reach to $3.7 billion by 2015.

Analyst Mark Chisholm writes "The technology behind 3D printing could present a lower cost of entry, eliminate segments of the supply chain and simplify R&D." And CEA chief economist Shawn DuBravac even believes "Just as Microsoft always had a vision that there would be a tablet on every desk, I could see a 3D printer in every home."

Looking ahead, 3D printing needs to be watched closely in 2013. In 2011 more than 23,000 desktop 3D printer were sold for home users, which is almost three times as much as a year earlier. And in addition, 6,494 professional professional 3D printers were sold worldwide. However it will still take a while before a 3D printer in every home.

NBC (Bay Area) writes in their recent blog that "next year will likely see a wave of innovations moving into the mainstream. That includes 3D printing, virtual grocery stores, and ultra high-definition TVs and an ingestible sensor that checks whether you're taking your medication correctly."

The very recent prediction from ZDNet also says 2013 will see a dramatic rise in the 3D printing sector, along with the associated ethical issues with it. According to David Berkowitz, VP of Emerging Media 360i, that "3D printing will be disruptive. By the end of 2013, marketers will need to engage in serious scenario planning to assess how 3D printing may impact their business."

The design experts over at frog design released its 20 tech trends for 2013 this month. The report says that the rise of 3D printing will lead to the rise of virtual manufacturing and more small-time, on-demand manufacturing operations.

Services like Shapeways, Ponoko, Sculpteo and i.materialise, which operate as shared factories for hire, will become a common back end for small-scale (10-1,000) unit manufacturing.

In 2011 Shapeways 3D printed 750,000 products an in 2012 this number reached to 1,000,000 products. These virtual factories spreading around the world enables real customization that anyone is able to "print objects to specification any time, without having to buy printers and factory space."

HP is another company who reports that personalization will shift tremendously in 2013.

Using the contextual information available from big data and the need for attention engineering, individuals and corporations will have greater expectation on how information is delivered to them. Although 2013 may be too soon, there will also be a shift in how products are personalized as 3D printing moves out of limited use and becomes significantly more mainstream with some parts of the world having 3D printing capabilities as a local service. 3D printing helps address the fact that the cost of transportation is going to have an increased impact on who, makes what where. This may be even further out, but the concept of personalized medicine, tuned to an individual's genetic makeup will be in the news much more in 2013. All of these things are variations of a shift in understanding and expectation of what personalization will really mean.


In "The Gartner Predicts 2013 Special Report":

New dynamics arising from the intersection of the Nexus of Forces, commoditization of office and consumer printing, workflow digitization and the emergence of new technologies such as 3D printing are permanently altering the print market.

3D printing industry is growing at an unsustainable rate. The quality of the products is rapidly improving and the number of companies working on 3D printing is increasing. Could the technology reshape the world in 2013? 3D printing will be widely used in design and manufacturing, but it can not replace traditional manufacturing. It will take time, 2013 would be a way too early for the technology.

At least, according to a Atlantic writer,

"the bottom line is: 3D printing is really awesome. So many things! So open source! So many fewer trips to the damn store! Its cheerleaders offer a compelling vision of a homemade, people-powered world. But despite its democratic premise, 3D printing remains a niche hobby, without any real signs of breaking into the wider, more mainstream market. And that's okay! Niche hobbies are where creativity and community mix, and that combination can give way to inventions and ideas bigger than their foundations. In 2013, let's celebrate the 3D printer for the imagination it already fosters, not the disruption it could someday bring."

Have fun and profit with 3D printing in 2013.




Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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Anja wrote at 2/24/2013 8:08:12 AM:

Thanks Pete, corrected.

Pete Basiliere wrote at 2/24/2013 3:34:22 AM:

Correction: The quote that references The Nexus of Forces is actually from a Gartner report titled "Predicts 2013: A New Print Paradigm "

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