3D Printing Year in Review 2013
Happy new year! 2013 was a great year for 3D printing.
Public stocks for 3D printing companies rose over 350%, beating the S&P 500 and Dow Jones by 10X or more.
(3D printing stocks in 2013; click to enlarge)
There were acquisitions, both large and small. 3D scanning technology came to market in a big way. And we saw great new materials used in 3D printing, from bioprinting to metals to sugar.
To celebrate 2013, On 3D Printing has put together a Year in Review, highlighting the biggest stories in the 3D printing ecosystem.
3D Printing Year in Review 2013
January 2013 – 3D printing was a big hit at CES in Las Vegas. MakerBot announced the Replicator 2X, recently merged Stratasys and Objet were showcasing the Mojo 3D printer, and 3D Systems won best in tech for the Cubify 3D printer.
February 2013 – President Obama mentioned 3D printing in his State of the Union address, calling the technology revolutionary. The President said, “A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.”
April 2013 - In a groundbreaking first in the medical field, a team from the University of Hasselt created a method for using 3D printing to fabricate a functioning titanium jaw implant that rescued their patient from a massive infection.
Also in April, thousands of 3D printing professionals and enthusiasts gathered for the Inside 3D Printing conference in New York City, where a keynote speaker said that 3D printing was in its “Apple 1 moment.” Read our full recap.
May 2013 - 3D printed guns were a big topic of discussion earlier in the year when libertarian activist Cody Wilson published his plans for the Liberator, the world’s first 3D printed gun. A few days later, the US government forced those plans to be taken down. The mainstream media jumped on the 3D printed gun story, which elevated the profile of 3D printing in general. Cody Wilson has moved on to focus on opportunities in Bitcoin, and it seems that most people have moved on from worrying about 3D printed guns.
June 2013 – Desktop 3D printer pioneer MarketBot was acquired by 3D printing giant Stratasys for $403 million, marking the first major acquisition of a consumer 3D printing company. For Stratasys, this was a major competitive play against 3D Systems who had launched the Cube desktop 3D printer. MakerBot had been founded in 2009 by Bre Pettis and had sold fewer than 25,000 3D printers by the time of the acquisition.
Also in June, a new desktop 3D printer, the Buccaneer, raised $1.4 million on Kickstarter.
July 2013 – MIT researchers developed an architecture pipeline, called OpenFab, that aims to dramatically reduce the learning curve and barriers involved in designing for 3D printing.
Also in July, NASA tested a 3D printed rocket engine injector for its space shuttle.
August 2013 – MakerBot announced the availability of their desktop 3D scanner, the MakerBot Digitizer, for $1,400. It has a turntable and uses laser technology to create a digital design from a real-world object in minutes.
Also in August, the UPS Store announced a nation-wide plan to deploy 3D printers in their stores.
September 2013 – Organovo CEO Keith Murphy presented at the Inside 3D Printing conference, showcasing his company’s achievements and roadmap, and presenting the case for a multi-billion big pharma opportunity. Organovo specializes in bioprinting, which involves 3D printing with human cells as ink. This allows Organovo to create human living tissue that can be used to test drug therapies at a very early stage of development, even before FDA trials begin.
October 2013 – German 3D printing firm voxeljet went public, soaring on first day of trading. voxeljet printer systems and services are aimed squarely at commercial applications in the automotive, architecture, aerospace, medical/orthopedic, engineering, and defense industries. The company sold its first 3D printer in 2002 and has installed 52 printers worldwide as of June 30, 2013, with 53% of sales outside of Germany and major customers including Ford, 3M, Daimler AG, BMW, and Hyundai.
November 2013 – 3D Systems launched Sense, a $399 consumer 3D scanner. Sense has flexible scan size and can capture everything from a picture-perfect cupcake to a full-body selfie, processing data in seconds for an instantly 3D printable file. 2013 turned out to be a formative year for 3D scanning, with many new products coming to market. Notable mentions include the MakerBot Digitizer desktop 3D scanner, the Fuel3D handheld 3D scanner, the Structure Sensor iPad add-on.
Also in November, 3D Systems announced that it was partnering with Google to create the new 3D printed smartphone.
December 2013 – Kentucky students successfully launched a 3D printed satellite into orbit. The collaborative team of students from the University of Kentucky and Morehead State University, along with Kentucky Space, launched the KySat-2 into orbit as part of the NASA ElaNa IV mission out of Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
Also in December, a new 3D printer, called Robox, raised $300,000 on Kickstarter. The Robox uses precision nozzles to make perfect 3D prints with no bumps. It should debut in 2014 for $1,400.
5 Predictions for 2014
It’s amazing to see the innovation we saw in 3D printing in 2013. But 2014 is sure to be even bigger. Here are a few things to look out for:
- Fun new materials – Pretty much any material can be constituted for 3D printing, from metals to food to rubber to concrete. Look for these to become more available and affordable.
- All-in-one devices – We predict the emergence of desktop devices that operate both as 3D scanners and 3D printers. There are already some on the market, such as the Lionhead from Radiant Fabrication.
- Consumer price drops – Expect prices to come down significantly for consumer devices as competition increases and new innovations come to market. We saw the a 3D printer as low as $100 (the Peachy).
- 3D printing in Space – NASA plans to put the first 3D printer in Space in August 2014, allowing astronauts to 3D print replacement parts or small cube-shaped satellites.
- More M&A activity and the big guys enter – We also think 2014 will be the year of big entrants and big acquisitions. Will IBM buy 3D Systems? Will HP launch their own line of 3D printers? Any of these could happen.