During my seminar at the recent TAVES Consumer Electronics Show north of Toronto, I shared my thoughts on the top ten trends in consumer 3D printing in the next 12 months. Here are the countdown to my top ten predictions:
10. Explosive Growth of 3D Innovations
- new technologies, including faster chemistry-based methods
- more brands, more models per brand, like the "Cambrian Explosion" in Earth's natural history 542 million years ago!
- more crowdfunded projects, especially look for Kickstarter campaigns for products and Indiegogo campaigns for related services
9. Rise of 3D Service Industry
- office manufacturing and service bureaus become commonplace
- printing networks will expand and consolidate
- rise of in-house 3D printing, 3D printing cafes, 3D printing farms, makerspaces and makerspace networks/associations and distributed 3D printing
8. 3D Design Goes Mainstream
- everyone can design in 3D with a new generation of user-friendly tools
- current top 10 most popular 3D design tools are: Blender, Sketchup, SolidWorks, AutoCAD, Maya, 3DS Max, Inventor, Tinkercad, ZBrush, Cinema 4D; others include 123D Design, OpenSCAD, Rhinoceros, Modo, Fusion 360, Meshmixer, Lightwave, Sculptris, Grasshopper and FreeCAD
- post-millennial students will be required to learn 3D design programs just like word processors, spreadsheets and photo-editing software.
7. 3D Scanning is the New Photography
- rise of 3D scanners allows us to capture people and things everywhere
- high-end digital cameras and smart phones will incorporate 3D scanning technologies
- historical archives and personal records in 3D, including cultural heritage sites and objects, people (before birth with ultrasound and after death in crime scene analysis), pets; specialized 3D repositories, analytics and big data of 3D files
6. New Composite Materials for 3D Printing
- hybrid filaments and resins revolutionize consumer 3D printing for more realistic prototypes and decorative objects
- new materials include composite PLA (containing copper, bronze, brass, wood, bamboo, carbon fibre, stainless steel, magnetic iron, conductive metal, coffee grinds, limestone), nylons and flexible materials, among others, from progressive suppliers like ColorFabb, Proto-Pasta and MakerBot
- composite materials will help extend the lifetime and usefulness of fused deposition modelling (FDM) or fused filament fabrication (FFF) printing
5. Industrial 3D Printing Technologies Trickle Down
- affordable stereolithography (SLA) and inkjet 3D printers coming soon to your desktop
- SLA printers from FormLabs and 3D Systems and inkjet printers from Canon and HP start competing for the consumer market
- higher quality of SLA and jetting printers will put high-end FDM/FFF systems under pressure
4. Wearables and Drones Drive Adoption of Consumer 3D Printing
- customized accessories and replacement parts for fashion, electronics and robotics have increasing demand
- made-to-order smart watch and other wearable accessories
- DIY quadcopter spare parts and other drone casings
3. Direct Digital Manufacturing Complements Global Supply Chains
- many products will be partially or completely manufactured locally, affecting almost all industries
- in the short term: dentistry and jewellery design; in the medium term: food and fashion industries
- in the longer term: architecture (building and bridges) and transportation (automobiles, boats, aircrafts, aerospace)
2. Consumer Recycling Machines Become Ubiquitous
- household grinders, desktop filament makers, new safety labels for plastic recycling
- local household recycling will redefine our lifestyle
- safety concerns: grinders and extruders should be child-proof; plastics with chlorine and other toxic content are not recyclable at home
1. Proliferation of Consumer 3D Printing in Educational Spaces
- schools embrace 3D equipment as educational tools integrated with the STEM curriculum
- libraries adopt 3D technology for constructing digital archives
- science and natural history museums use 3D printing to enhance visitors' experience and to build digital catalogs
Forecasting technology is always challenging. Check back this time next year to see how my predictions panned out!
MARKHAM, ON October 14, 2015
, a pioneer in desktop 3D printing education, service and equipment delivery in the Greater Toronto Area, today announces its decision to represent two important brands in the 3D printing industry: ColorFabb
(from Helian Polymers) and Proto-Pasta
(from ProtoPlant). Helian Polymers
is a young and dynamic plastic company located in Venlo, in the south of the Netherlands. Founded by Ruud Rouleaux in 2011, Helian has a nimble team of plastics experts with years of experience in the masterbatch and biopolymer industry. The goal of Helian Polymers is to provide the plastic processing market with the best possible solutions with respect to their customers’ needs. To achieve these goals and generate maximum added value, Helian cooperates with a few selected international partners. In 2013, Helian created ColorFabb
, a world famous brand of high quality filaments composed of innovative materials for 3D printing, including Eastman Amphora™ 3D polymer, PLA/PHA, XT-Copolyester, and Special composites such as copper, bronze, brass, wood, bamboo, and cork. As the 3D printing industry continues to expand, ColorFabb will continue to extend their wide range of colours and new materials available. ProtoPlant
is a professional engineering firm in Vancouver, Washington, USA founded by Dustin Cramer. Founded on a vision of advancing science and technology by providing the best possible engineering and manufacturing services, the engineers at ProtoPlant are dedicated to creativity, affordability and quality. Recognizing the need for high-performing and widely accessible materials for personal 3D printers, in 2013 ProtoPlant created Proto-pasta
, a line of exotic 3D printer filaments specially engineered for performance and printability on small, FFF-style 3D printers. In particular, the engineers at ProtoPlant developed and produced six revolutionary materials: Conductive PLA, Stainless Steel PLA, Magnetic Iron PLA, Carbon Fiber Reinforced PLA, High Temperature PLA, and PC-ABS Alloy. Each material was rigorously tested and developed over the course of many months, with testing data and results published for customer review and comments. The end product was a line of high performing, high quality, exotic 3D printer filament unlike any other. Meanwhile, new ground-breaking materials are continuously in development. Makerwiz
is a leading provider of desktop 3D printing and scanning technology, rapid prototyping service and maker education in York Region, an area with over 1.1 million inhabitants immediately north of Toronto. Becoming authorized dealer of quality 3D printing filaments from both ColorFabb and Proto-Pasta will allow Makerwiz to immediately provide unique materials for desktop 3D printing in the Canadian marketplace. “Our new partnerships with ColorFabb and Proto-Pasta will allow us to expand the existing product range to include highly demanded composite and exotic materials for fused deposition modelling (aka fused filament fabrication), the most popular technology in desktop 3D printing today.” said Dr. Peter Lau, Maker-in-Chief at Makerwiz and Mayor of 3D Hubs Toronto. “A wide range of materials are now 3D printable, including copper, bronze, brass, steel, iron, wood, bamboo, carbon fibre, and even coffee! By making these innovative products more easily accessible to Canadian consumers, Makerwiz continues its quest to enhance service and offerings to maker communities across the country, from sea to sea.” About Makerwiz
Makerwiz is a creative company dedicated to promoting the Maker Movement in Canada by fostering the knowledge and application of emerging creative technologies such as 3D printing, drone robotics and wearable electronics. The motto of Makerwiz is "Inspiring Boundless Creativity". Founded in 2014, Makerwiz is an active organizer for the 3D Hubs community in Toronto. Headquartered in Markham (also known as the “High Tech Capital of Canada”), the company is also a staunch supporter of York Region Makers, a not-for-profit organization aiming to create new public makerspaces in York Region. For more information, contact Makerwiz at 1-800-586-2949 or visit makerwiz.com
MARKHAM, ON June 25, 2015
— Makerwiz, a pioneer in desktop 3D printing education, service and equipment distribution in the Greater Toronto Area, today announces its new partnerships with four major players in the digital fabrication industry: 3D Hubs, 3D Systems, Filabot and MakerBot.
is a leading provider of prosumer and consumer 3D printing and scanning technology and services in York Region, a region with over 1.1 million inhabitants immediately north of Toronto, Canada’s largest city. Becoming an authorized dealer of quality products from 3D Systems and MakerBot will allow Makerwiz to help popularize 3D printers and 3D scanners in the GTA and make these products readily available to the STEM educational space in Ontario and across Canada. Partnering with 3D Hubs, Makerwiz is organizing regular 3D printing “meetups” and expanding its rapid prototyping service to assist more hobbyists, product designers and industrial engineers realize their project goals. As a dealer for Filabot, Makerwiz will distribute filament makers that recycle waste plastics into useable 3D printing filaments, thereby encouraging environmental stewardship through enabling green manufacturing processes.
is the world’s largest and fastest growing network of 3D printers with over 18,000 locations in over 140 countries. The company is on a mission to make 3D printing accessible to everyone by unlocking the world’s idle 3D printers, facilitating transactions between 3D printer owners (Hubs) and people that want to make 3D prints. 3D Hubs empowers people to create a new type of product, which is personalized, on-demand and locally produced. Makerwiz is already an experienced “Hub” in the Toronto 3D Hubs community and will assume the responsibility of organizing monthly “meetups” on behalf of 3D Hubs going forward.
is a leading provider of 3D printing centric design-to-manufacturing solutions including 3D printers, print materials and cloud sourced on-demand custom parts for professionals and consumers alike in materials including plastics, metals, ceramics and edibles. The company also provides integrated 3D scan-based design, freeform modeling and inspection tools and an integrated 3D planning and printing digital thread for personalized surgery and patient specific medical devices. Its products and services replace and complement traditional methods and reduce the time and cost of designing new products by printing real parts directly from digital input. These solutions are used to rapidly design, create, communicate, prototype or produce functional parts and assemblies, empowering customers to manufacture the future. Makerwiz will distribute the Cube (3rd
Generation) 3D Printer, the CubePro 3D Printer, the CubePro Duo 3D Printer, the CubePro Trio 3D Printer and the ProJet 1200 3D Printer, as well as the Sense 3D Scanner, the iSense 3D Scanner, the Touch 3D Stylus, Cubify softwares (Invent, Design and Sculpt) and CubePro PLA and ABS Cartridges, and other 3D Systems 3D printing accessories.
is the world’s first manufacturer of desktop 3D filament makers. The company ships plastic recycling systems and recycled products to companies all around the world for different applications. The staff at Filabot wants to change how the world uses plastic by making plastic the solution to its own problem it creates. Their goal is to have Filabot be a one-stop shop for start-to-finish, environmentally friendly, 3D printing. Filabot already has a big presence in the 3D printing market but continues to grow rapidly as it expands the horizons in the industry. Makerwiz, currently the only Canadian distributor for Filabot, will provide the Filabot Wee Kit, the Filabot Wee, the Filabot Original, the Filabot Original EX2, and the Filabot Spooler to the Canadian market.
is a global leader in the desktop 3D printing industry and was one of the first companies to make 3D printing accessible and affordable. MakerBot now has one of the largest install bases and market shares of the desktop 3D printing industry, with more than 80,000 MakerBot Desktop 3D Printers in the world and a robust MakerBot 3D Ecosystem that combines hardware, software, apps like MakerBot PrintShop and MakerBot Mobile, materials, training, support, consulting, retail stores, partnerships and Thingiverse, the world’s largest online community for 3D printing, in order to make 3D printing easy and accessible for everyone. MakerBot Desktop 3D Printers are used by engineers, architects, designers, educators and consumers to enhance education and transform the design process through Real-Time Prototyping. Makerwiz will distribute the MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer, the MakerBot Replicator Mini Compact 3D Printer, the MakerBot Replicator Z18 3D Printer and the MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printer, as well as the MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner, MakerBot PLA and ABS Filaments, and other MakerBot 3D printing accessories.
“Our new partnerships with MakerBot, Filabot, 3D Systems and 3D Hubs provide enormous opportunities for us to further expand our expertise and service areas in 3D creative technologies. Having the world’s best players in digital fabrication behind us is crucial acknowledgement of our company’s strong potential in distributing high quality creative technology equipment and supplies to multiple market segments that will experience explosive growth over the next few years.” said Dr. Peter Lau, Maker-in-Chief at Makerwiz. “With substantial expertise in public contract tendering and e-commerce platforms, Makerwiz will initially focus on targeting the STEAM needs of school and library makerspaces, then move on to inspire and address the demands of individual families who yearn for boundless tools to develop their innate creativity.”
Makerwiz is a creative company dedicated to promoting the Maker Movement by fostering the knowledge and application of emerging creative technologies such as 3D printing, drone robotics and wearable electronics. The motto of Makerwiz is "Inspiring Boundless Creativity". Founded in 2014, Makerwiz is an active organizer of the 3D Hubs community in Toronto. Headquartered in Markham (otherwise known as the “High Tech Capital of Canada”), the company is also heavily involved in the creation of two new public makerspaces in York Region. For more information, contact Makerwiz at 1-800-586-2949 or visit makerwiz.com