"In spite of widespread publicity around 3D printing over the past year or so, 3D printers designed for home use are only at the beginning of their long journey towards widespread consumer adoption," says David Mercer, Principal Analyst and the report's author. "The industry must overcome a number of barriers if the long-term potential of 3D printing as a consumer market is to be realised."
Amongst these barriers the report identifies two key factors: user experience and copyright issues. In spite of recent improvements the report suggests that most desktop 3D printers are still too complicated, slow and limited in applications to become mass market devices. These user experience issues are likely to be resolved over time as technologies improve but this will require vendors to devote resources to understanding the needs and attitudes of end users.
Copyright issues are also likely to emerge when rights holders realise their products can be copied by home users. The future availability of personal 3D scanners combined with home 3D printers means that some commercial items could eventually be replicated to a quality close to the original.
"In the long term home 3D printers offer great potential for new business models in industry and retail," Mercer comments. "But 3D printing technology vendors and service providers must recognise and overcome the specific barriers to consumer market adoption as they develop products designed for the mass market."