We’re less than a month into 2014 and it is already looking very much like this will be the year where major, multinational companies start taking 3D printing very seriously indeed, with technology giant Dell leading the line.
This week, it confirmed that it will be selling a selection of devices from MakerBot from its online store from 20th February on. Now, alongside Dell Precision Workstations, Dell Ultrasharp Monitor and 3Dconnexion controllers, its customers can pick up Replicators and Digitizers.
Hot on the heels of last week’s news that Dell purchased a massive batch of 3D printers from Polish manufacture Zortrax in order to furnish its East and central Asian offices, this shows just how committed it is to the future of additive manufacturing.
It also shows that, despite what some have suggested, 3D printing is really not the domain hobbyists or geeky enthusiasts. Rather, it is for large businesses and manufacturers looking for a quicker, more cost effective way to prototype new products, speeding up the time it takes to get a their wares on the shelves.
Dell describes the process like so:
Engineers can design and test new product concepts quickly; architects can create 3D prototypes during the design phase and start ups can experiment with new product designs and artistic models inexpensively.
The deal is supported with an agreement that MakerBot will be the only FDM technology available through Dell’s small business channel in the USA.
Dell are not the only big name business players seeing the huge potential in 3D printing. In a recent report, Jonathan Shaffer of Credit Suisse predicted the 2016 3D printing market would be worth $175 million. Last week, he modified this prediction to $800 million – a raise of 375% in his estimation. IDC also sees incredible growth in additive manufacturing, expecting a compound growth rate of 29% between 2012 and 2017.
For all the “don’t believe the hype” articles written about 3D printing over the last year or so, as 2014 dawns, it is beginning to look like the hype might not have gone far enough.