2011 3D Printing Predictions

When we first started MakerBot, we were most interested in what individuals would do with access to a 3D  printer. Thingiverse shows everyday that amazing things are possible with this new tool. The question I’ve been asking myself is what can a community of 3000 MakerBot Operators do together? Last night on my personal blog I made some predictions for 2011 and two have to do with MakerBot Operators.

  1. The community of more than 3000 MakerBot Operators will do something on a global scale. I’m not sure what, but I feel it coming.
  2. Someone will upload a digital design to Thingiverse that will have an impact on lives in places where there isn’t a daily postal service. Not sure what, but got a feeling about this one too.

My predictions are pretty vague, but I can feel the potential energy of the community. I just know that the MakerBot community is going to do some special things in 2011. Got any ideas for giant collaborative or world changing projects? Post them in the comments!

This morning Joris over at i.materialize posted eleven predictions about 3D printing on TechCrunch.

  1. Makerbot will sell more than 10,000 3D printers in 2011.
  2. Bre Pettis will appear on the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek magazine in 2011.
  3. A designer will have revenues of over one million US dollars with a single 3D printed product in 2011.
  4. Both Stratasys and Objet will release $5000 desktop 3D printers at Euromold 2011.
  5. Zcorp & EOS will be the only major 3D printer manufacturers not to offer a desktop 3D printer in 2011.
  6. 3D Systems will launch a 3D printing service for consumers in 2011.
  7. At least five 3D printing startups aimed at consumers will launch during 2011.
  8. Adobe will buy Autodesk in 2011.
  9. Microsoft buys Dassault Systemes in 2011.
  10. 3D modeling software vendors will start to offer “light 3D printing” versions of their products
  11. 3D printed products will win at least two Red Dot Design Awards in 2011.

In 2009, we sold 750 MakerBots and in 2010, we’ve sold 2300 MakerBots. 10,000 more MakerBots is a pretty wild prediction, but it might just happen if 3D printing keeps going the direction it’s going! Joris’ predictions match up with my feelings that 2011 will see a lot of action in the 3D printing space!

I’d love to hear what your 3D printing predictions for 2011 are. Drop a note in the comments!

Tagged with 16 comments

16 Comments so far

  • Bryan Monti
    December 31, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Number 8 cannot happen! Autodesk is too good!
    I think the worlds biggest open source 3D printer will be built.
    Support material(dual extruder) will be added to the makerbot/thing-o-matic line.
    MakerBot will sell 5000 thing-o-matics.
    The open source 3D printing community will receive some sort of award of excellence (because we are all that awesome!)
    Makerbot will release a direct drive stepper extruder (MK5 add on or MK6).
    Some of these maybe farfetched but anything can happen in the open source world…

  • The Ruttmeister
    December 31, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    3. needs to have the 3d equvalent of itunes/steam (perferably steam!) before that can happen… And even then I think its kinda hard to envision when there are still comparatively few printers out there.

    When will you add a sales mechanism to thingiverse? 😛

  • Don Park
    December 31, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Its great to see what is coming after “desktop publishing” with laserprinters in the 80s – “desktop manufacturing” with rapid prototypers in the 2010s. Thingiverse is one of those things I can point to and say ‘yeah we live in the future’. The innovation I’d like to see is in a new biodegradable material. The world has enough plastic in it. Plant matter processed into something with similar qualities would help keep poisons out of the ecosphere.

  • TonyS
    December 31, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    @Don… the good news is we already have it, and it’s called PLA. The even better news is that the good people over at RepRap are working on a way to enable you to make it yourself!

  • Duann Scott
    December 31, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Congratulations on the growth of MakerBot in 2010.

    My 2011 follow in an exponential curve…

  • =ml=
    December 31, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    3D Printing will feature prominently in a movie in 2011. Indie or studio picture; it doesn’t matter.
    A 3D printed key that enables a character to escape imprisonment is one possibility.

  • =ml=
    December 31, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Add yours to the 3D Printing Predictive timeline:

    I’ve added my movie prediction for Thanksgiving 2011. If you can hit the month that’s great the week is better, the day is best!

    Let’s see how accurate we are!

  • Stan
    December 31, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    If we count products that begin as 3D printed items, then I’m pretty sure the Glif will hit the $1,000,000 mark in 2011. The prototype and the first 550 sold on Kickstarter are 3D printed, but the rest will be injection molded.

    As for my predictions for 2011:
    1. Stepper-based extrusion will become the norm on MakerBot printers.

    2. There will be serious competition between multiple vendors of Reprap-designed (and Reprap-inspired, i.e. MakerBot/Ultimaker/etc) printers. Despite this, demand will grow so fast that vendors still have difficulty keeping up with orders.

    3. There will be more progress in dissolvable support material (dual extruders, chemical techniques, material choices, software support), but it will still fail to catch on in the mainstream 3D printing community.

    4. Physically removable support structures (like Skeinforge does now) will become a standard technique and people will only complain about unsupportable overhangs in parts on Thingiverse.

    5. We will see our first threat of a lawsuit in the 3D printing community. It will probably be a trademark violation on Thingiverse, and there will be much handwringing on blogs, forums and mailing lists about whatever action MBI decides to take. Next most likely is a patent lawsuit once a patent troll realizes that MBI is making money.

    6. Web-based model creation (think CloudSCAD + WebGL + pure awesome) will become a big deal, and a standard way to share and manipulate parameterized models. If CloudSCAD and Thingiverse don’t find a way to combine their powers and have a web-baby, I will be sad.

    7. We will see a really compelling, and very experimental, proof of concept demonstrating what is possible with simultaneous multi-material printing. (And I don’t mean support material.) My guess is that this will take the form of a 3D circuit where the insulator and conductor can be deposited simultaneously.

    8. There will be at least one new toolhead concept to add to the already diverse collection: plastruder, frostruder, Unicorn pen, and the EggBot attachment.

  • Max Ogden
    December 31, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    “The community of more than 3000 MakerBot Operators will do something on a global scale. I’m not sure what, but I feel it coming.”

    I see the Maker Factory project as an embodiment of this feeling you are having.

  • beak90
    January 1, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    In 2011 Makerbot will continue to sell many printers, but sales will likely level off unless more significant changes are made in software (which is likely). Reprap will continue to grow, but mostly through advancements made by people not in the core reprap team, which has been a growing trend in 2010. Some company will come out with an open source 3d printer based on a print head instead of thermoplastic extrusion which will open many doors for new repraps. Adrian’s existing reprappable inkjet head will start this trend. There will continue to be more development with the DLP light cured resin technique as this poses huge advancements for detail printing. As the year ends, likely no one will be printing mendels anymore as smaller faster versions come out such as the prusamendel. Also in 2011, someone will manage to print with recycled plastic that was previously another printed object. This will likely happen using HDPE. Also more people will try printing with HDPE as it is cheap and easier to print with using a heated bed.

    Oh and also some new 3d modeling software will be released thats designed to be super simple so that anyone can make what they want. It will be aimed at 3d printing and won’t have lots of animation and texture and color stuff added.

    These are just my guesses based on 2010. It will be interesting to see how stuff turns out.

  • Peter Coe
    January 3, 2011 at 8:35 am

    In 2011 Paola Antonelli will acquire a Makerbot Cupcake for MOMA’s Permanent Design Collection.

    At least one object from Thingiverse will show up in a major design show.

    I also like Stan’s #5 above – Evil vampire lawyers are inevitable!

  • Mark Kimsal
    January 3, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Zcorp & EOS will be the only major 3D printer manufacturers not to offer a desktop 3D printer in 2011.

    If *either* of those two companies enter into the desktop 3d printer market, then you know the desktop market is mainstream and has a long future. Both of them entering is just too far fetched for reality at this point. On the other hand, companies are usually such slow movers in general that you’ll know the desktop market is real and revolutionary far before any traditional replicator company enters into the desktop market.

    Makerbot will sell more than 10,000 3D printers in 2011.
    Bre Pettis will appear on the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek magazine in 2011.

    For either of those two things to happen will have to have inventory stocked, which doesn’t seem high on their list of things to get done.

  • Mark Kimsal
    January 3, 2011 at 10:03 am

    It’s great to hear 10k units as a prediction, but the prediction doesn’t mean crap if the company doesn’t behave in a way to help make that into a reality. Investing in production capacity and advertising to actually move 10k units is not something that business wait around for, or predict by looking at 2 years of history. It can be real, but y’all have to make it happen.

  • The Next Big Thing: 3D Printing - MakerBot Industries
    January 6, 2011 at 3:11 am

    […] 3D printing enthusiasts tout 3D printing as the next big thing for 2011 isn’t exactly […]

  • tre3
    January 29, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    I know it’s late to the party but…

    “If we count products that begin as 3D printed items, then I’m pretty sure the Glif will hit the $1,000,000 mark in 2011. The prototype and the first 550 sold on Kickstarter are 3D printed, but the rest will be injection molded.”

    Just about every product (within reason) starts it’s life as a 3D printed item(s)… Except, in industry, we just call it rapid prototyping. The product I’m working on did (several iterations even), now it’s plastics are injection molded (4 unique parts, 2 materials – ABS and PC) and rubber parts are compression molded. Monday, I’m shipping one for review by the Red Dot committee…

    In the event this product wins an award – I would by no means count it towards the prediction despite the fact that it’s a product that began as a 3d printed item… The glif is not unique in it’s lifecycle process (except for maybe the funding side) 😉

  • new print head
    February 4, 2011 at 5:09 am

    Its a nice post. I read and i enjoyed it.Thanks for this post.


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