3D printing is becoming more affordable and accessible for consumers. A recent study from, surprise, a 3D printer company reveals a growing interest in the do-it-yourself (DIY) trend.
The report, commissioned with research agency OnePoll, surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers and found that one in three Americans would consider buying a 3D printer for their home in 2014. From this one third, 65 percent of consumers were interested in creating and printing customized items for the home.
CEL Robox is an established company that successfully (over) funded a new 3D printer in December 2013 on Kickstarter. Robox was designed by CEL, a British product development company with a heritage developing successful consumer products including the POWER8workshop which was featured on the popular BBC television program Dragons’ Den.
Though industry analysts, including this one, have been somewhat skeptical about the use cases for 3D printing in the home and with consumers, the “3-DIY Report” found that American consumers are increasingly open to the practical use for 3D printers in 2014. The skepticism is fueled, in part, that consumers always want something new, something hip, and 3D printing fulfills that desire. However, there are still many obstacles that interfere with making the process easy.
To their credit, CEL-Robox is striving to make it faster with a dual nozzle setup and easier to fix with a replaceable print head, among other innovations. I am not attempting to review this printer, not in this post, but to talk more about the findings of their study, however.
The report also outlined why and what American consumers would be most interested in 3D printing at home:
- The main 3-Desire: The ability to print everyday items instead of purchasing them from a store was the most appealing feature (36 percent), followed by the ability to print items to help fix things around the house (35 percent).
- Getting crafty: More than one in five (21 percent) want a 3D printer to create customized jewelry and accessories, while more than one in four (28.5 percent) want a 3D printer to create personalized accessories for their gadgets.
- DIY, I do: One in three (33 percent) want a 3D printer to help create personalized gifts for other people. 3D printers may also make inroads in the $53.4 billion wedding industry, with 17 percent of Americans saying they would use a 3D printer to print homemade wedding favors.
- A nation of innovators: Ten percent would like a 3D printer at home to help them invent and prototype new products or technologies. Now, this one really caught my eye because I believe this is one of the biggest reasons people are considering a 3D printer. We are a nation of tinkerers, of do-it-yourself types, of two people in a garage planning to change the world.
All of these additional insights make the report more useful, and arguably, more accurate as a reading on consumer purchase intent. Age and location also influenced consumer interest in wanting a 3D printer for the home. Millennials, those between the ages of 18 and 24, were more likely to state they wanted to buy a 3D printer. I would not have expected to see a specific regional interest, but the report found strong interest for 3D printing in the Southeast U.S., with Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee most likely to buy a 3D printer in 2014.
I won’t wager that we’re at the consumer-ready stage yet, but I will agree with Robox CEO, Chris Elsworthy, when he says that they have built a micro-manufacturing solution to allow every individual, from parents to their kids, to enjoy the benefits of 3D printing. If Robox can make 3D printers more accessible to the consumer market, that’s a corporate mission worth supporting and investing in.
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