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3D printing and investing

Posted by Brandon Satterfield on

As an avid trader as well having a hand in the 3D printing industry I cant help but see the relations in this industry. 

In the realm of investing, resistance is a term used for a price point on a bar chart graph of a given asset in which the price resist to go higher. Typically it takes something major to break the resistance point to the positive. Are we here? Will the hobbyist 3D printing world break over or are we at the support level (the opposite side of resistance)?

I recall the feeling first time I watched Adrian Bowyer's video. 

I saw it in 2010, it was far from an old video but no longer ground breaking. Before this, the technology seemed untouchable for a guy like me. 

I fiddled around for about a year trying to get something together. You have to recall at this time you could not run out and buy a hot end online just anywhere. The parts for the first one needed to be things laying around, printed parts where not sitting on a shelf. In addition, there was not an abundance of different models, filaments or controllers. 

Printrbot in my opinion helped tremendously in 2011 in the US hobby realm, it seemed Brook took Adrian's dream and brought it here to the US. The first ones were pretty ugly, much like Brook (just joking brother, much love).

Image above from the kickstarter page.

Soon enough Prusa came on the scene with something big and strudy. I was lucky enough to have access to a Stratasys, sweet talking the operator, I had a set of parts and gear ready to go together.

I fell in love, I spent hours building tweaking and watching this machine (I still have it).

The market flooded, there seemed to be no resistance and support was not even a thing to think about. 

Hot ends stunk at the time, my first build had a J-head looking hot end on it, cant recall where I procured it from. Soon enough though E3D started spitting out something that changed the way we hobbyist extruded. It was amazing. 

The chart is still heading straight up if we are looking at a security. 

Filaments at this time started becoming the laggard. Soon enough guys like Taulman started giving us engineering plastics. Oh my the adventures, we could print things that didn't snap or separate. 

Things seemed to start to level out after this. China was ever increasing production of parts from every faucet of the 3D printing hobby world. This crunched the guys that were commercially involved. Every time I would get contacted by China with one of my vendors product I would forward the email to the manufacturer. After a while no one seemed to care. 

We would see a new releases come out here or there like Dyze hotends, printed beds saw different material changes to whatever was hot that week. I'm still a glue stick or painter's tape kinda guy. Stepper motors became increasingly cheaper, more and more iterations of controllers came out. It seemed we had met resistance. 

SLA printing brought some new interest but price point and size has always seemed to keep this method depressed.

Printrbot started manufacturing professional looking printers and moving them into mainstream, bridging the hobby and commercial world, but moving away from the hobby based printers, we own a couple of them. They are pretty much point and print. Still a great product though.

One guy reached in and broke resistance in 2014, he took one of the last laggards for the home builder and killed it, the Bondtech extruder. Why only have one gear pushing the filament? How novel!

We could now literally blow the hot end off our printer! 

In recent years we have seen devices to add to printers that make multi-color printing more accessible, but watching builders I have not seen a lot of people adding these devices.  

It is now 2018. I cant recall the last innovative product for the home builder that has hit the market that causes hysteria and buy now attitude, breaking resistance or even getting back to old levels. I feel we are testing new resistance levels now. Even China has stopped coming with copies of these products to guys like me, they can go straight to amazon, who doesn't care at all (we will see what the new tariffs do to this).

A good friend to the company helped us develop a dynamite printer that contains all the "latest" stuff, the question is who will pay for it at around $2500.00? 

I have seen so many companies come and go in this short 8 year period. The true stakeholders will continue to pique interest of new comers but every market has its limits without new innovation.

So is that it, do we get hanging printers and decades old technology of tool changers now? Where else is there to go? What can be changed? Faster? More Precise? Maybe a new process, how many ways can you melt or form plastics?

  • Finance and the hobby based 3d printing world
  • Investing and 3D printing
  • resistance in 3d printing
  • What is new in 3D printing?
  • Who will bring the hobby based 3d printing crowd something new?