You know a technology is about to explode onto the mass market when businessweek covers it in its monthly CEO guide to technology podcast. This month they speak to Pete Basiliere, research director at Garter who specializes in research into print technology trends. In the podcast Peter explains the current status of rapid prototyping technologies with an insight into what the big name printing manufacturers are doing behind the scenes to prepare for the 3D printing revolution. According to Pete Basiliere there were 3000 3d printers in 2006, and predicts there will be 300,000 by 2011.
Pete seems to get most excited when he mentions the grass roots fabrication that is happening, where people are making their own 3D printers like evil mad scientist and reprap.
He also discusses some of the more interesting fabrication online portals like fabjectory and figureprints. Figureprints is a portal to supply 3D printed figurines of your World of Warcraft (WOW) avatar. According to Pete there is currently a 100,000 person waiting list to get their avatars printed, which is quite impressive, but it also looks like they are in bed with Dell. On the Dell Blog there is talk of the WOW Dell laptop and gold ticket holders(?) getting to have their avatar printed. Check out this video they posted of them explaining it to a guy who I actually think may cry with joy when he gets his….
So how far off is the Dell 3D printer???
Download the Podcast to get a great primer on 3D desktop printing.