In case you missed it, the metal age of do-it-yourself 3D printing is now upon us. At least, that's what the creator of the just-unveiled Mini Metal Maker, David Hartkop, firmly believes. But even if Hartkop is able to take the first prototype from his Indiegogo campaign to finished product, will there be a market for the printer? Yes, says Hartkop. In fact, the same folks who are already buying the Stratasys Ltd. (NASDAQ:SSYS) MakerBot could be prime customers.
Mini Metal Maker potential
To be clear, the MakerBot market isn't small. In Stratasys's most recent quarter, MakerBot sales were $11.6 million -- or 9% of the company's total revenue. If the Mini Metal Maker garners interest from just a tiny smidgeon of this market, Hartkop may have tapped into a goldmine with his latest creation.
In a recent interview with Hartkop, I was able to get a closer look at the printer. While the printer has drawbacks -- particularly its need for a kiln to fire the printed metal clay -- Hartkop made an excellent case for why the MakerBot community may be interested in his printer.
While the MakerBot market could serve as an interested party for the Mini Metal Maker, the latter device may also be one of the first printers to provide a link between consumer 3D printing and custom jewelers and other unique craft niches that work only with metal and already own a kiln.
What do you think: If Hartkop manages to bring the Mini Metal Maker to market, will there be willing buyers? Could current MakerBot owners be interested?