This is a guest article by Robox CEO, Chris Elsworthy.
Though industry analysts have been skeptical about the use cases for 3D printing, it comes at little surprise that the technology has more recently become associated with the DIY (do-it-yourself) movement. Martha Stewart, perhaps the most widely recognized face of DIY culture itself, was seen eagerly browsing the 3D printer floor at International CES 2014, in search of the perfect consumer-friendly 3D printer to help in her craft work. While the current 3D printer market encompasses a wide range of different models that cost anywhere between $500 to upwards of $5,000, what will continue to grasp consumers’ attention are the 3D printers that are able to conveniently and easily print quality items that consumers would use on a daily basis.
3D Printing to Improve Your Home
Recent research from my company, Robox, found that American consumers are becoming more open to the practical use for 3D printers in 2014. More specifically, one in three Americans would consider buying a 3D printer for their home this year, with most wanting the technology to create more customized products for their home. The versatility, personalization aspect and ability to re-create favorite items are just some of the key benefits of 3D printers today. For instance, one of the most appealing factors in having a 3D printer for the home, is the fact that users can print everyday household items instead of having to purchase them from a store, or easily fix broken household items, as seen in this Pocket-lint article about 3D printing a replacement shower head. The main difference between 3D printing versus buying household products is that 3D printing still takes a significant amount of time. The larger the item, the more time consuming the print job will be. So while stories around the latest 3D printers creating furniture and even full sized houses may be impressive, the real value for at-home 3D printing lies in creating the more common household items – like kitchenware, children’s and pet toys – that provide functional, daily use.
Features and Functions for the Everyday Consumer
The array of products that 3D printers will be able to create in the future is truly endless. According to a recent CNN article: “The people selling printers, files and scanners aren’t discouraged by the lack of an obvious use case. They seem confident that it will come in the next few years, as more people get their hands on the devices and start experimenting, and as the technology becomes more advanced and takes on a wider range of materials.” At Robox we largely agree with this statement, which is why it’s so exciting to see from our research that people are noticing how 3D printing can help around the home and in creating customized items. Overall, truly successful 3D printers must offer users a unique combination of functionality and creativity that doesn’t diminish over time. Instead of releasing several 3D printer models per year that each focus on a specific function, a single 3D printer that is able to incorporate and adapt to multiple new features will be much more appealing to the average consumer.
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