3-D Printing for Consumers: Nothing but Smoke?

Thanks to Stratasys and 3D Systems, this longtime industry expert has changed his opinion about consumer adoption of 3-D printing.

Mar 19, 2014 at 7:00PM

James Woodcock has been following the 3-D printing industry for decades. Until recently, the group editor for the highly respected TCT Magazine + Personalize was skeptical about consumer adoption of this technology.

But 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) and Stratasys' (NASDAQ:SSYS) subsidiary MakerBot are changing his mind. Both revealed new and compelling consumer-oriented products at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Our roving reporter Rex Moore was able to chat with Woodcock at the show. In this video, they discuss Woodcock's change of heart, as well as TCT's "Don't Believe the Hype" conference at CES.

A full transcript follows the video.

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Rex Moore: Welcome to the 2014 International CES. Behind us here is the huge 3-D printing Tech Zone, actually sponsored by TCT Magazine + Personalize. This is James Woodcock, with TCT.

James Woodcock: Hello.

Moore: How are you doing? One of the experts in the industry -- been following it for many, many years. James let's talk, first of all -- big area here -- what have you seen that catches your eye for this year?

Woodcock: This is the second year we came. We came last year as a two-man team, 36 hours, and it was a very fly-by-night affair. This year, the biggest outstanding for me is the fact that everything is together in one zone. There's such a buzz about it.

In terms of the individual announcements, yesterday we had MakerBot and 3D Systems, who came out with a host of consumer/prosumer oriented announcements, which are making 3-D printing more accessible. For a long time, I've thought that 3-D printing for the consumer has been smoke. It's been nebulous. Now I can really see that, with these announcements, it is something that consumers will adopt and will get into.

Moore: That's interesting because you're also part of a series here, a conference on "Don't Believe the Hype," 3-D Printing. Why is it called that?

Woodcock: It might sound strange, from an industry magazine that is focused on 3-D printing, to say "Don't believe the hype," but the idea behind it was not to dispel 3-D printing. 3-D printing is a set of fabulous technologies that are doing incredible things every day.

The hype muddies the waters. It makes it less clear what the abilities are. We'd like to cut through that and show people exactly how consumers, designers, right up to aerospace companies and the likes of Intel, are deploying these technologies today -- because you don't need to hype that. That's real, it's happening today, and it's fabulous as it is.

Rex Moore has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of 3D Systems and Stratasys. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

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David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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