There's a burning question for many investors and industry watchers out there: Will 3D printing ever become so popular that every home has a 3D printer?
Companies like 3D Systems and Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS) have made it a priority to mainstream the technology so that everyday people will value it enough to own their very own 3D printers.
In the following video, 3D printing specialist Steve Heller interviews Jonathan Jaglom, CEO at Stratasys' MakerBot, about whether he believes that there will come a time when every home has a 3D printer and how to drive overall consumer 3D printing adoption.
In Jaglom's view, one of the biggest challenges that's preventing mainstream adoption of consumer 3D printers is ease of use. To address this need, MakerBot continues to improve upon its ecosystem to make it as easy as possible for everyday people to take their ideas from abstraction to fully-formed, 3D-printed objects.
A full transcript follows the video.
Steve Heller: Looking at the industry in general here, what's the most important thing to drive the future of consumer adoption, where every person has a 3D printer in their home? Maybe you don't believe that, maybe you do; if you'd like to share with me your thoughts on mass adoption of 3D printing on a consumer level?
Jonathan Jaglom: First of all, I do believe that. I believe that there will be a printer in every person's home, or there should be at least, in the future to come. I think we're not there yet, but we're definitely heading that way.
It's really a question of ease of use. As long as our [MakerBot's] printers are easier and easier to use, and as long as it's easier and easier to create content to then be printed, then that will facilitate that entry into the consumer market.
We're working very hard on creating that experience as easily as possible; that's the ecosystem. Again, I recommend you go see the Shape Maker. It's a great tool because it's so intuitive to just create something out of nothing.
If we create those tools that allow regular people to just create something and then print it off our 3D printers, that will help us get to the consumer market, and we're heading in that direction. That's, again, when the ecosystem becomes so important.
Heller: In terms of creating awareness around the consumer market to educate people that maybe don't know too much about 3D printing, how do you convince them that this is a valuable technology for them?
Jaglom: I would use the education market as a source of reference. The education market today is roughly 5,000 schools use our printers, in this nation [U.S.] alone. Then it's a question of watching how these kids are using our printers and how much they're evolving in their innovation and their creativity.
Then it's really a question of, the world falls into three. Do you believe that 3D printing negatively impacts a child's creativeness and innovation skills? I'm sure no one would argue that. Is it indifferent? Are they indifferent to this technology? I believe the answer to that is no as well.
Then everything greater than zero has tremendous value to it, whether it's quantified as 1%, 3%, 5%, I really couldn't care. The moment it's bigger than 1%, that's a huge benefit. If you want to develop your future workforce to be more innovative and to be more creative, that's what you want to do.
Heller: Very good. Looking at the killer applications here, if someone doesn't know too much about 3D printing technology and you want to educate them and you want to get into the education market, how would you show them the technology? What kind of example would you use?
Jaglom: My advice to those people would be, seriously, embark on this journey. Just try it out. Get the equipment, get a 3D printer in-house, experiment on it. Experience the ecosystem.
The ecosystem facilitates life and makes it a lot easier for you to create things. I'm telling you, it's as easy as taking a photo, stretching an image and then launching it to print. That's the product we're launching today [called Shape Makers].
Start there, and just experiment. Slowly, slowly, through our ecosystem and through our experience you will understand this industry better and better as you move down the road. But you definitely should start today.