If you look at what’s happening on crowdfunding services, 3D printing appears to be another industry sector closing in on primetime. There’s several projects associated with the sector that appear to have attracted multiples of their original funding goals, suggesting a lot of cash is being thrown in their direction.
That’s no great surprise considering the speed with which 3D printing is evolving into an actively used technology. You will see 3D printers now in some US libraries while the US Postal Service in July released a white paper in which it predicts it can make $485 million from offering 3D printing services, similar to those online services offered by the likes of 3D Hubs.
This means the technology is heading out of the labs and onto the high street, making it reasonable to expect 3D printing services at your local Cartridge World, and also making it probable 3D printers will fall in price, new materials will be made available, and the subsequent evolution of a proto-industry supplying 3D reference designs for key markets (for example, education, toys, games and home DIY sectors).
“The total 3D printing industry was valued at around $3 billion in 2013 and is expected to grow to $16.2 billion by 2018,” says USPS.
The growing interest 3D is reflected in several current crowdfunding projects, including:
MOTA 3D Printer
This latest Kickstarter funding round aims to raise $100,000 in order to launch an affordable 3D printer priced from $99. That’s a significant aim, given the cheapest such systems available today seem to be priced at a minuimum $299. The system prints objects up to 6.10 inches wide x 6.10 inches long x 6.5 inches high. You can read more about this project here, but with 28 days (at time of writing) to go it has already raised over $62,000 of its funding goal.
Also on Kickstarter, Printeer is a 3D printer for kids and schools. With just 29-hours to go until the funding round closed, the project had picked up $114,345 in funding – far above its original $50,000 goal. The concept is pretty simple – it’s a 3D printer that links up with a smartphone or tablet and allows children to create a design and then print it on the printer. More on this here.
3D printed autoparts store
Another innovative implementation of 3D printing is the brainchild of graduate, Landon Crist. He has turned to Indiegogo to raise funding for a 3D printed auto parts store. There could be potential to the idea (and we must stress we’re not investment advisors) because as new materials become printable using these technologies, so too will new components be made available – you won’t be confined to plastics. However, his notion may be too far ahead of where the technology is right now, as he’s raised just $20 of his $250,000 goal.
There’s plenty of examples to illustrate growing interest in the sector, but as with everything, due diligence should be made before you make any significant investment in any sector.