3D printing technology has literally gone through the roof in the past few years! The trend may as well grow into one of the most promising business opportunities for technology companies besides the IoT.
The technology enables fast prototyping and helps designers and engineers to build custom parts and to try different designs at a very low cost and high quality compared to traditional prototyping techniques.
However the end-customer market offers at least equivalent potential with huge opportunities in customised, “on-demand” products. Companies like Shapeways, a 3D printing service and marketplace which recently made news when receiving a $30 million in funding, already discovered the new market space and started to introduce new business models in order to benefit from the technology.
The concept is simple: Users can sign up and create their own online store in order to sell their designs. The difference compared to conventional home-printed products e.g. from your MakerBot is that professional companies like Shapeways are able to print over 20 types of plastics and metals, including gold, steel and full colour plastic. This enables designers to offer a broad spectrum of products ranging from jewellery to plastic gadgets. In addition you can order products in whatever 3D-printable material you choose and customise them further to fit your needs.
3D printed jewellery – the next big thing?
It is predictable that this technology will have a huge impact on online stores and industries such as hand-made jewellery, as customers now are able to order products according to their imagination with nearly no limits in size and shape.
It will be interesting to watch the market for 3D-Printers, design software and commercial online platforms in the near term future.
Checkout the infographic that explains some of the most popular 3D printing techniques used by 3D printers to make prints out of plastic, glass, porcelain and even metal from Shapeways below to get an impression on current possibilities.