Be the first to hear our latest news

Enough of the hype - Gartner reveals the latest predictions for 3D printing.

It was over a year ago when we first discussed Gartner’s “Hype Curve for emerging technologies” report and looked at the position of 3D printing on their infamous life cycle curve.

At the time we queried how “the applications of 3D printing are so diverse that it surely cannot be possible to pin it down to just one point on the curve- can it?” In the report the only differentiation made within the technology was between 3D bio printing, 3D scanners, consumer 3D printing and enterprise 3D printing which were highlighted at different stages along the pathway.

A new report has now been published based purely on 3D printing. By contrast, this time Gartner has identified 21 different subsections of the technology and it is fascinating to see that some of the predictions made in the last report are becoming reality.3D Printing Hype Cycle predictions

In a nutshell, the industry continues to evolve at a phenomenal pace although many 3D technologies are still 5-10 years away from the plateau where mainstream adoption is commonplace.

The report highlights that the enterprise 3D printing market is a very different one to the consumer market and should be treated as such. In the report, it highlights that the public, although very aware of the capabilities of home 3D printers, are finding the costs still too high to justify.

Hence, consumer 3D printing is positioned just over the pinnacle of the ‘Peak’ and is now on it’s way into the ‘Trough of Disillusionment’ with a prediction of 5-10 years before reaching mass adoption. This is the period of time when interest begins to wane and companies within the sector are either able to establish themselves and climb into the ‘Slope of Enlightenment’, or fail.

In order for this to happen, costs will need to come down even further than they have currently, to make the price point for home printers more acceptable. In the last report, Gartner predicted that 3D printers would not become commonplace in households until at least 2019, which seems realistic at this point.

By contrast, enterprise 3D printing is expected to reach the ‘Plateau of Productivity’ within the next 2-5 years, having already come through the ‘Trough of Disillusionment’. Consumers appear very happy to buy 3D printed items from third parties who have made the products for them and have readily established this as a growing market.

The other area brought to our attention in this report is the Medical sector. “3DP is already in mainstream use to produce medical items that need to be tailored to individuals, such as hearing aids and dental devices” states Pete Basiliere, Gartner’s Research Director. Similarly, routine use of 3D printing for hip and knee replacements along with other internal and external medical devices, despite only being at the ‘Peak’, is predicted to be a mere 2-5 years away from market maturity. Given this is a $15 billion industry, companies will do everything, I am sure, to get through the ‘Trough’ as quickly as possible and onto a more sustainable footing.

We also notice 3D bio printing has been split and is found in 2 areas on the Hype Curve; one focuses on producing living tissues for human transplant, and the other on life science research and development. Both of these areas are currently on the incline in the ‘innovation trigger’ with a 5-10 year prediction and are worth keeping an eye on. We know tissue cells, proteins, DNA and drugs have all been created by 3D printers and are very much in the development stage. Once the initial hurdles have been overcome, this technology looks set to surge forwards due to the huge implications for modern science.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning the addition of 3D printing of consumable products to the Hype Cycle along with macro 3D printing and classroom 3D printing. All have considerable interest to date but have current issues that may keep them from developing as quickly as some of the other 3D technologies.

And so…our 3D future continues to gallop along at a rate of knots. It’s not surprising to see that some of the 3D sectors have advanced more quickly than others; prototyping was always the 3D printing’s brainchild, but it is rewarding to see the opportunities that 3D printing has brought to the medical world and the difference this has made to human quality of life. Whether this has been driven by a desire for humanitarian development or simply commercial hunger, we cannot knock the impact 3D printing is having on our society. To what end we can only speculate but there is no doubt at this moment in time, 3D printing is here to stay!

  • “Plunkett Associates have excellent breadth of experience, work with high quality partners and have a flexibility that we have found enables challenges to be met successfully, cost effectively and in a timely manner.”
    Nick Skaer, CEO, Orthox Ltd
  • Plunkett associates always find a solution. Whatever we need to prototype, they have a great grasp on the technologies available, costs and lead-times so we get the right solution tailored to the project needs. Have always delivered and never let us down.
    Naim Audio
  • “I can’t recommend Tim and his team highly enough. We ended up with a design which can be produced and assembled quickly, efficiently and reliably, in volumes that make sense”
    Simon Leggett, Director, Olivewood Technology
  • "Tim's experience, expertise and supplier base have been fundamental to us getting this project off the ground."
    Sam Pearce, Jelly Products Ltd
  • “We were really surprised at how quickly they turned round such a high quality prototype and the parts certainly proved their worth. They were of high enough quality to provide a fantastic visual representation and to undergo rigorous testing."
    Stuart Wilson, Design Director, TRT Lighting
  • “Accuracy, finish and delivery all first class.”
    Andrew Peters, JMDA Ltd
  • “We use Plunkett Associates because we want someone we can trust, that knows what they’re talking about, has all the contacts, will provide reliable advice and feedback and will get the right result for us.”
    Jim Copestick. Design Manager, Thorlux Lighting
  • “We always know exactly what we’re getting and we know we won’t be let down on quality, price or lead times.”
    Mark Williams, Research and Development Director, Johnson Safety Products
  • “Plunkett Associates truly offer a complete turnkey solution with Speed, Effectiveness and Precision.”
    David Harden, Director, Enica Ltd
  • “Kirintec were thrilled with Plunketts. They made a complex process simple and we were just amazed at the lead times achieved. Plus, every single deadline was met without any drama.”
    Penny While, Marketing Director, Kirintec
  • “Thanks to Plunkett Associates flexible, bespoke and cost effective service I was able to produce the objects that I had originally had in mind.”
    Simon Ryder, Artist
  • To create such a consistent quality finish in chrome was an amazing achievement and the prototypes really gave our stand the wow factor.
    James Clark, Group Commercial Director, The Airdri Group
  • Interestingly, people who look at it in its own right with little knowledge of what it does, just like it! It’s tactile and it looks good…
    Tim Collings, Operations Director, Troika Systems Ltd
  • "With their simple to understand language, willingness to go the extra mile and approachability, Plunkett Associates were a great partner for our company. We couldn’t be happier with the results of our project. (A working prototype that they got right first time, by the way). Thank you!"
    Carolina Ballon-Forrester, Director, Kittyrama Ltd
  • Plunkett Associates worked on the design and production of titanium frames for an artificial heart valve where precision and consistency was paramount. Communications were efficient and productive with concepts readily incorporated into the final design, and suggestions for improvements all highly appropriate. The quality of the end product was ideal and I have no doubt that I will use the advice and expertise of Plunkett Associates again.
    David Wheatley, Wheatley Research Ltd
  • “Thanks for the present that arrived this morning, as promised. Parts look first class, as always.”
    Jon Todd, Design Manager, PHS Group
  • “Plunkett Associates have a fantastic supply chain, work with all sorts of production processes and will always do their utmost to solve a problem.”
    Naim Audio
  • “ Plunketts developed a solution that met our precision requirements at a cost significantly lower than alternative manufacturing approaches we had investigated”
    Nick Skaer, CEO, Orthox Ltd
  • “Doing business with you has been an absolute pleasure. You have made my goals a reality. You have been patient, helpful and above all, responsive. Best service that I have experienced in ages. I consider Plunkett Associates to be an integral part of my business plan moving forward.”
    Jet Cooper, Sculptor

Read more expert articles in our Latest News section where we discuss topics on materials, methods and products.

Back to Latest News
  • “Plunkett Associates have excellent breadth of experience, work with high quality partners and have a flexibility that we have found enables challenges to be met successfully, cost effectively and in a timely manner.”
    Nick Skaer, CEO, Orthox Ltd
    Nick Skaer, CEO, Orthox Ltd
  • Plunkett associates always find a solution. Whatever we need to prototype, they have a great grasp on the technologies available, costs and lead-times so we get the right solution tailored to the project needs. Have always delivered and never let us down.
    Naim Audio
    Naim Audio
  • “I can’t recommend Tim and his team highly enough. We ended up with a design which can be produced and assembled quickly, efficiently and reliably, in volumes that make sense”
    Simon Leggett, Director, Olivewood Technology
    Simon Leggett, Director,  Olivewood Technology
  • "Tim's experience, expertise and supplier base have been fundamental to us getting this project off the ground."
    Sam Pearce, Jelly Products Ltd
    Sam Pearce, Jelly Products Ltd
  • “We were really surprised at how quickly they turned round such a high quality prototype and the parts certainly proved their worth. They were of high enough quality to provide a fantastic visual representation and to undergo rigorous testing."
    Stuart Wilson, Design Director, TRT Lighting
    Stuart Wilson, Design Director, TRT Lighting
  • “Accuracy, finish and delivery all first class.”
    Andrew Peters, JMDA Ltd
    Andrew Peters, JMDA Ltd
  • “We use Plunkett Associates because we want someone we can trust, that knows what they’re talking about, has all the contacts, will provide reliable advice and feedback and will get the right result for us.”
    Jim Copestick. Design Manager, Thorlux Lighting
    Jim Copestick. Design Manager, Thorlux Lighting
  • “We always know exactly what we’re getting and we know we won’t be let down on quality, price or lead times.”
    Mark Williams, Research and Development Director, Johnson Safety Products
    Mark Williams, Research and Development Director, Johnson Safety Products
  • “Plunkett Associates truly offer a complete turnkey solution with Speed, Effectiveness and Precision.”
    David Harden, Director, Enica Ltd
    David Harden, Director, Enica Ltd
  • “Kirintec were thrilled with Plunketts. They made a complex process simple and we were just amazed at the lead times achieved. Plus, every single deadline was met without any drama.”
    Penny While, Marketing Director, Kirintec
    Penny While, Marketing Director, Kirintec
  • “Thanks to Plunkett Associates flexible, bespoke and cost effective service I was able to produce the objects that I had originally had in mind.”
    Simon Ryder, Artist
    Simon Ryder, Artist
  • To create such a consistent quality finish in chrome was an amazing achievement and the prototypes really gave our stand the wow factor.
    James Clark, Group Commercial Director, The Airdri Group
    James Clark, Group Commercial Director, The Airdri Group
  • Interestingly, people who look at it in its own right with little knowledge of what it does, just like it! It’s tactile and it looks good…
    Tim Collings, Operations Director, Troika Systems Ltd
    Tim Collings, Operations Director, Troika Systems Ltd
  • "With their simple to understand language, willingness to go the extra mile and approachability, Plunkett Associates were a great partner for our company. We couldn’t be happier with the results of our project. (A working prototype that they got right first time, by the way). Thank you!"
    Carolina Ballon-Forrester, Director, Kittyrama Ltd
    Carolina Ballon-Forrester, Director, Kittyrama Ltd
  • Plunkett Associates worked on the design and production of titanium frames for an artificial heart valve where precision and consistency was paramount. Communications were efficient and productive with concepts readily incorporated into the final design, and suggestions for improvements all highly appropriate. The quality of the end product was ideal and I have no doubt that I will use the advice and expertise of Plunkett Associates again.
    David Wheatley, Wheatley Research Ltd
    David Wheatley, Wheatley Research Ltd
  • “Thanks for the present that arrived this morning, as promised. Parts look first class, as always.”
    Jon Todd, Design Manager, PHS Group
    Jon Todd, Design Manager, PHS Group
  • “Plunkett Associates have a fantastic supply chain, work with all sorts of production processes and will always do their utmost to solve a problem.”
    Naim Audio
    Naim Audio
  • “ Plunketts developed a solution that met our precision requirements at a cost significantly lower than alternative manufacturing approaches we had investigated”
    Nick Skaer, CEO, Orthox Ltd
    Nick Skaer, CEO, Orthox Ltd
  • “Doing business with you has been an absolute pleasure. You have made my goals a reality. You have been patient, helpful and above all, responsive. Best service that I have experienced in ages. I consider Plunkett Associates to be an integral part of my business plan moving forward.”
    Jet Cooper, Sculptor
    Jet Cooper, Sculptor