Aug 4, 2017 | By David

3D printing has been one of the biggest technology trends of recent years, and its growing accessibility and popularity is bringing with it a considerable amount of hype concerning its potential applications. Leading research company Gartner is well known for its hype cycle tool, which charts the maturity and adoption of a particular technology in graphical form. The company has recently published the 2017 edition of its 3D Printing Hype Cycle, focussing on the main trends in the 3D printing industry.

The Gartner Hype Cycle recognizes 5 different stages of a technology trend - being on the rise, being at the peak of expectations, sliding into a trough, climbing a ‘slope of enlightenment’, and finally reaching a plateau of productivity. Trends that are on the rise tend to gather a lot of interest due to their potential applications, but mostly only proofs of concept or research exists, not usable technology. 3D printed drugs, bio-printed organ transplants, 3D printing workflow software, 4D printing and 3D printed wearables are all identified as being at this stage.

On the Rise

  • 3D Printing Workflow Software
  • 3DP of Consumable Personal Products
  • 4D Printing
  • Nanoscale 3DP
  • 3D Printed Wearables
  • 3D-Printed Drugs
  • 3D Bioprinted Organ Transplants
  • IP Protection in 3DP
  • Macro 3D Printing
  • Sheet Lamination
  • 3D Printing in Oil and Gas

The next stage up on the trend is where expectations are at the highest, and successful applications have been implemented, although not yet across the board. Powder bed fusion, 3D printed surgical implants, 3D printing in retail, classroom 3D printing and 3D bio-printing for life sciences are all at this level now.

At the Peak

  • Powder Bed Fusion
  • 3D Printing in Retail
  • Classroom 3D Printing
  • Directed Energy Deposition
  • 3D Printed Surgical Implants
  • 3D Printing in Supply Chain
  • 3D Bioprinting for Life Science R&D

The stage following this takes into account technologies that had very high potential that hasn’t quite been fulfilled yet, with a few missteps or teething problems shaking people’s confidence in what is nevertheless a serious breakthrough. Stereolithography, 3D printed tooling, 3D printed medical devices and 3D printed electronics are currently at this stage, as are bio-printed human tissue and 3D printing in aerospace and defense.

Sliding Into the Trough

  • 3D Printing of Medical Devices
  • 3D Bioprinted Human Tissue
  • Consumer 3D Printing
  • 3D Printing in Manufacturing Operations
  • 3DP in Aerospace and Defense
  • Stereolithography
  • 3DP Presurgery Anatomical Models
  • 3D Printed Tooling, Jigs and Fixtures
  • 3D Printed Electronics and Fabrication

Trends that are climbing the slope of enlightenment tend to be previously hyped technologies that are now entering the second or third generation of products, with confidence gradually starting to build after some previous setbacks. Technologies in this category include 3D printed dental devices, 3D printing in the automotive industry, 3D scanners and 3D printing service bureaus. The market is continuing to become more professionalized, and B2B 3D printing is now the norm, as opposed to B2C.

Climbing the Slope

  • 3D Printing of Dental Devices
  • Binder Jetting
  • Material Jetting
  • 3DP in Automotive
  • Enterprise 3D Printing
  • Material Extrusion
  • 3D Scanners
  • 3D Print Creation Software
  • 3D Printing Service Bureaus

Finally, there are a handful of technologies that are now at their peak of productivity, with their adoption being widespread and mainstream. Two key areas that could be classified here are 3D printing for hearing devices, and 3D printing for prototyping. The low cost of 3D printing technology as well as the speed with which it can convert a design to a final product makes it the perfect method for rapid prototyping, which is what it was initially invented for. It has accordingly been adopted for this purpose almost universally across the manufacturing world. Hearing devices are less intrusive and intimate than other implants, as well as requiring highly specialized geometry to get a correct fit, so this also makes them ideal candidates for the efficient use of 3D printing at its current level.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Willem wrote at 10/31/2017 3:32:34 PM:

Hi David, Do you have a higher resolution version of this hypecycle? With kind regards, Willem

charlie T wrote at 8/8/2017 12:30:20 AM:

Is the 2017 chart different than the 2015 chart? It looks identical. Here's the link to 2015 -

ANon wrote at 8/7/2017 8:45:46 PM:

The title says 2017, but the graph has July 2015. Which year is this?

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