3D Systems' (NYSE:DDD) ZPrinters are lauded for their full color and high-speed 3-D printing technology. While there's no question that the printers are an excellent fit for architectural models and prototypes, some investors wonder whether or not this material-jetting technology is the beginning of a new wave of desktop consumer 3-D printers. Based on comments from 3-D printer inventor David Hartkop, investors shouldn't get their hopes up.

Is material-jetting technology the foundation for a new wave of consumer printers?
It was a "historic, game-changing event" for 3D Systems. 3D Systems gained "complementary full color and high speed printing technology," said 3D Systems' CEO Abe Reichental when the company acquired Z Corp on Jan. 3 2012. He was right: The material jetting in Z Corp's ZPrinters is one of the most mature 3-D printing technologies in the market. But it has its limitations.

Thanks to material-jetting technology, ZPrinters can print in beautiful high resolution. This makes the printers often a first choice in industries that need detailed models and prototypes -- like architecture. But do they have potential as consumer printers? In an interview with David Hartkop, the creator of the world's first desktop 3-D printer for metal, I asked him about whether or not material-jetting technology could be a good fit for the next generation of consumer printers. Here is what he had to say.

 

As Hartkop explains, there are advantages to the material-jetting technology used in ZPrinters, but when it comes to physical products to use in the home, the technology doesn't look ready.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.