“I do believe 3-D printing will change my career as an Industrial Designer. And that the reason why I bought one. It is the trend of future.”
Technically, 3-D printing is create objects by placing materials layer by layer from digital 3-D files.
During the last three years (2010 — 2013), home-use 3-D printing market witnessed a significant price drop from around $20,000 to less than $1000, which is mainly due to the technology improvements and the involvement of Chinese companies. And it is predicted that (according to Wohlers Associates and Citigroup). The 3-D printing market could grow to $6.5 billion by 2019 from less than $3.5 billion today (end of 2013).
So far, most 3-D printers are designed and made for pro-users, companies or even for aerospace and orthopedic industries. However, as one of the fastest growing and most promising gizmo and market, 3-D printing will be accepted by more and more people. As the trend begined as a micro and gradually grows into a macro one. The hardware and design of 3-D printer should quickly reach a highly-saturated level (imagine what the cell-phone market is like now). Furthermore, electronic giants like HP and Dell are developing their 3-D printer. It is expected that the hardware of 3-D printing market will be vastly competitive.
The prediction of trend above means the weight balance of 3-D printing industry may change from hardware to the content, the things people can print.
According to Thingiverse, an open source design website, contributors are uploading an exponentially increasing numbers of 3-D designs.
I believe that after this boom, by 2016 or earlier, people will be more willing to seek high quality design for them to print. They will pay for special or custom designs. This will be like the “iTunes” for 3-D printing market. And that requires people with 3-D background and their job is similar to that industrial designers are doing now. Finally, the 3-D printing market will be the balanced combination of hardware as well as the design of things which will be the structured trend in the long run.