Tag Archives: industry

Shapeways CEO: Become a Creator of the Products You Care About – 3D Printing Conference (Part 8)

Shapeways CEO 3D Printing Conference

Shapeways CEO Gives an Update on His Company

Peter Weijmarshausen, the CEO and co-founder of Shapeways, a leading consumer facing 3D printing service company, started his keynote address today at the Inside 3D Printing Conference in New York with the question, “What do you really want?”  He went on to explain that the problem with mass manufacturing is forcing individual consumers to buy products that are identical to what other people buy, even though everyone has unique preferences.  To illustrate this point he showed a picture of a custom car.  “This is a labor of love, and extremely costly,” he said, pointing to the picture.  3D printing, on the other hand, makes customization easy.  And that makes it a very valuable service.

Shapeways Growth

So far it appears that Mr. Weijmarshausen is correct, as Shapeways is growing fast, and planning to grow even faster in the future.  Last year the company hosted Mayor Michael Bloomberg to open a new factory on Long Island, and just today it announced an additional $30 million in venture capital funding.  However, Mr. Weijmarshausen prefers touting slightly different metrics.  Today Shapeways has over 10,000 designers and over 300,000 community members that submit and purchase 60,000 new designs every month.

Yet it is not just the ability to upload and purchase designs that excites the people at Shapeways.  As shown in a brief demo of the ‘sake set creator’ app, the real vision is for consumers to be able to customize template designs in user-friendly applications.  Today it might be something as simple as a coffee cup or a lampshade, but Shapeways believes this is just the beginning.

The Future of 3D Printing

When asked what he hopes for the future of 3D printing, Mr. Weijmarshausen paused for a moment and then said new materials and larger scaling of the industry at large.  3D printing, as he pointed out, is still a very small industry.  The faster it grows, the more people will become aware of it, and in his opinion this will be good for not just Shapeways but also for consumers everywhere.


Authored by Brian H. Jaffe, founder of Mission St. Manufacturing and contributor to On 3D Printing.

Keynote Declares “Complexity is Free”: 3D Printing Conference (Part 2)

3D Printing Conference Keynote

3D Printing Conference Keynote: Complexity is Free

Avi Reichental, CEO of 3D Systems, the world’s largest 3D printing company, opened this week’s inaugural Inside 3D Printing Conference in New York City with the declaration “Complexity is free” in the world of 3D printing.  For the first time in the history of manufacturing, he explained, “The machine doesn’t care how complex of an object it makes.”  This was only one of many provocative and forward-looking declarations he made in his thirty-minute keynote to open the conference attended by over a thousand industry insiders, enthusiasts, investors and media followers.

Mr. Reichental’s address focused on the many industries that he sees being disrupted by 3D printing.  In design and manufacturing, for instance, he said that two-thirds of professional engineers still do not use 3D printing at all, meaning there is considerable opportunity to further penetrate 3D printing’s traditional marketplace.  However, in other industries ranging from medical devices to education to fashion to candy making, Mr. Reichental sees even more opportunity to expand 3D printing’s footprint and create fundamentally new and exciting products and businesses.

Other highlights from Mr. Reichental’s address:

  • He predicts the 3D printing industry will grow by 8-10 times in the next decade.
  • The combination of higher R&D spending, lower time-to-market, higher complexity, greater democratization, and increased focus on sustainability fuels the rapid expansion of 3D printing.
  • No single 3D printing technology will address every solution; therefore multiple technologies need to be advanced.
  • “Mass-complexity” of designs will fuel demand for 3D printers in industry as much as “mass-customization,” specifically in strength-to-weight concerned industries such as aerospace and automotive.
  • Patient-specific medical devices will become the norm thanks to 3D printing.

While at times Mr. Reichental’s address was clearly promoting the achievements of his own company, he successfully made the point that 3D printing is expanding outward from its core in multiple directions and at a very high velocity.  And at very least, he made the case for all the conference’s attendees that to better understand 3D printing is to better understand the future of multiple industries, and indeed a very worthwhile way to spend the next two days.


Authored by Brian H. Jaffe, founder of Mission St. Manufacturing and contributor to On 3D Printing.

Enterprise-Class 3D Printer Prices to Fall Below $2,000 by 2016

CES 2013 MakerBot 3D Printers

Enterprise-Class 3D Printer Prices to Drop Below $2,000 by 2016, Gartner Reports

In a new report. Gartner says early adopters of 3D printing technology will gain an innovation advantage over rivals.

3D printing is disrupting the design, prototyping and manufacturing processes in a wide range of industries, according to Gartner, Inc. Enterprises should start experimenting with 3D printing technology to improve traditional product design and prototyping, with the potential to create new product lines and markets. 3D printing will also become available to consumers via kiosks or print-shop-style services, creating new opportunities for retailers and other businesses.

“3D printing is a technology accelerating to mainstream adoption,” said Pete Basiliere, research director at Gartner. “It is a technology of great interest to the general media, with demonstrations on science shows, on gadget websites and in other areas. From descriptions of exciting current uses in medical, manufacturing and other industries to futuristic ideas — such as using 3D printers on asteroids and the moon to create parts for spacecraft and lunar bases — the hype leads many people to think the technology is some years away when it is available now and is affordable to most enterprises.”

The material science behind 3D printing processes and materials will continue to progress, and affordable 3D printers are lowering the cost of entry into manufacturing in the same way that e-commerce lowered the barriers to the sale of goods and services. As a result, the 3D printer market will continue moving from niche adoption to broad acceptance, driven by lower printer prices, the potential for cost and time savings, greater capabilities, and improved performance that drives benefits and markets.

“Businesses must continuously monitor advances to identify where improvements can be leveraged,” said Mr. Basiliere. “We see 3D printing as a tool for empowerment, already enabling life-changing parts and products to be built in struggling countries, helping rebuild crisis-hit areas and leading to the democratization of manufacturing.”

3D printing is already established in industries ranging from automotive manufacturing to consumer goods to the military, as well as the medical and pharmaceutical industries. Businesses can use 3D printing to design personalized products, components, working prototypes and architectural models to promote their brand and products in new and interactive ways. Indeed, there are opportunities to create entirely new product lines in which the finished 3D-printed product is what the consumer purchases.

3D printers are now priced so that any size business can invest in them and start experimenting with the myriad ways to monetize them. By 2016, enterprise-class 3D printers will be available for under $2,000. Early adopters can experiment with 3D printers with minimal risk of capital or time, possibly gaining an advantage in product design and time to market over their competition, as well as understanding the realistic material costs and time to build parts. Furthermore, enterprise uses for 3D printers have expanded as capabilities of 3D scanners and design tools have advanced, and as the commercial and open-source development of additional design software tools has made 3D printing more practical. Gartner believes that the commercial market for 3D print applications will continue expanding into architectural, engineering, geospatial and medical uses, as well as short-run manufacturing.

Major multinational retailers have the means to market the technology to consumers and generate revenue by selling printers and supplies, as well as from sales of individual 3D-printed pieces. One vision is for the retailers to not only sell the printers, but also offer a service bureau that prints custom items or personalized variations on stock items, a key consumer trend.

Another possibility is for roving display vans to visit the retailer’s stores. Customers would visit these self-contained vans parked in front of the store that contain two or three operating printers and watch parts being made (including possibly their own personalized 3D item). Alternatively, the consumer could order the custom or personalized part to be made while they are shopping, or to be available for pickup the next day.

More detailed analysis is available in the report “How 3D Printing Disrupts Business and Creates New Opportunities.” The report is available on Gartner’s website at http://www.gartner.com/resId=2373415.


Top 3D Printing News Last Week: Conference Discount, FabCafe, and IBM

Inside 3D Printing Conference

A roundup of the top 3D printing news from March 18 to March 24:

IBM Sees Exponential Growth of 3D Printing Industry

Paul Brody IBM 3D Printing

More than just a tool, 3D printing is an emerging ecosystem.
– Paul Brody, IBM on the exponential growth of the 3D printing industry

At the Siemens Global Innovation Summit in Phoenix, IBM’s Paul Brody gave a look at how manufacturing transformation is changing the traditional rules of product design and development.

Brody highlighted 3 technologies: 3D printing, intelligent robotics, and open-source engineering.

On 3D printing, he discussed key trends:

  • 3D printing is rapidly achieving levels of performance required to be production-ready
  • 3D printing is already used in production for medical devices and aerospace
  • Performance is improving year on year
  • At lower volumes, unit costs are competitive with machining and plastic injection molding

He also dove into trends on open-source and crowdsourcing, asserting that 80% of consumers told IBM they are willing to help enterprises develop their products. Brody claimed, “Accept their help or see them build your competition on Kickstarter.”

IBM had partnered with The Economist to analyze the growth rate of open-source design repositories, namely Thingiverse, and found that the number of 3D printable items is on an exponential upwards path while complexity as measured by number of parts is on a steady increase.

IBM 3D Printing Exponential Growth

Paul Brody’s full talk is embedded below and more research from IBM is available here.