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Celebrating our 400th WTFFF?! episode with a few 3D print predictions for 2017 and some resolutions the industry should make and actually try to keep. Tom and Tracy Hazzard share their own 3D print design resolutions for the next year and what’s to come in the next year on 3D Start Point. What companies are going to fade away in the next year and what companies will keep their footing and see continued success?
Listen to the podcast here:
3D Print Predictions for 2017
This is our 400th episode and because it’s also the end of the year here, we thought we’d take our 400th episode to really give you our New Year’s resolutions and our 2017 3D print predictions on what’s going to happen in the marketplace or what’s going to happen to 3D printing in general or what’s going to happen to us maybe. Who knows? I’ve got a couple of things in mind that maybe are more about me than 3D printing.
Here’s the thing, my dad believes that you should always make resolutions. Even if you’re going to break them, you should always make them. The first thing he does at midnight is text me and say, “Did you make a resolution yet?” Anyways, I’m accustomed to doing it. I look at resolutions as less like, “I’m going to resolve to lose weight this year.” That’s just too general. I like them to be really specific, actionable, something that I can really do and something that is not achievable quickly. It’s not something you can just do in 30 days like, “I did that. I made it a mission to go see something.” No, I want it to be something that you have to actively grow throughout the year. That’s the way I like my resolutions to be. Why not make it harder? Why do anything the easy way? That’s where it is.
I’m not going to say it’s a resolution but this one is a prediction. I’m predicting by the end of 2017, I will be wearing a pair of 3D printed flip flops every day. I think that that’s coming, I think somebody’s going to do it. If not, I’m going to do it somehow by the end of 2017. Because I wear flip flops a lot. We’re in Southern California. Although today here it happens to be raining, first time in a long time so I’m not. I’m a flip flops, short and polo shirt type of guy most of the time. It’s time for customized flip flops that fit me.
I have been a Rainbow Sandals enthusiast because Rainbow Sandals is right out of San Clemente, which is where my parents live. They have their little shop there that you can go in and buy them wholesale, the leftovers, that kind of stuff. I’ve had them for years and I absolutely love them but lately, the styles are not nice anymore. I think I’m ready for a change too. If I see them out there and they’re 3D printed, I’m out there doing it. It’s something we wear every single day.
I think I mentioned this as like a wish item when we talked with Wiivv Wearables last week. They’re not doing that now but somebody’s got to be looking at that. So many people are looking at 3D printed shoes, why can’t we do flip flops? They should be easier, you would think. They’re flat. They just need to have a certain amount of material quality. I think they can be done. Definitely, I think that that’s a great resolution or 3D print prediction.
I think it’s real. I think it’s coming. There are many, many more things happening with 3D printed products that are not just prototypes end use products. Shoes are one of the areas of swiftest development right now, not just development but actual action in production that I think that’ll happen. Maybe that’s an easy one for me to predict because I really believe it. We’ll see, maybe by the end of the year, I’ll be wrong. We’ll have to revisit these predictions later.
3D Print Predictions for the ThingMaker
What do you think, prediction wise, on Mattel’s ThingMaker? We talked with Mark last week on the interview and Mark was saying that, and I agree with him, that Mattel cannot make a mistake. This is a toy and no one can get hurt. The toys have to be perfect. Everything has to be right about it. Do you think it’s actually going to happen by 2017?
Let’s make sure that our listeners all understand because I don’t think we mentioned this actual detail in our recap of Inside 3D Printing we went to last week, is that Mark let us know that it’s been announced. We talked about it in the interview with Mark. In case you haven’t heard that episode yet, this will be really quick. The ThingMaker was supposed to come out. It was announced to come out in November, I believe October or November of 2016, it did not happen. They premiered it just after CES or something like that and they made this announcement that they had expected it at this time in the year. It’s gone through some extensive testing, which it just is taking longer and which makes sense to me.
They’re saying it’s delayed a year is what they’re saying. Instead of Fall 2016, Fall 2017. Mark’s right. I thought it was aggressive before. We knew it was because to bring out a consumer level to the professional quality level that Mattel does everything, it takes a huge effort. This is a much more complicated “toy” than any other that they’ve probably done. It’s got to be safe and so many things that we did talk with Mark about regarding the safety and what age range it’s acceptable for. It’s going to be at least thirteen plus if not higher in terms of age that it’s intended for even if you and your kids may use it.
Are they going to achieve it in 2017? I’m going to go out on a limb and say no. I think they’re going to still encounter more issues than they planned and it may not all be with the machine. It may also be with their eco system for what you’re going to print on it. I’m going to say the date slips and they actually may start showing it actually working at CES January 2018. That’s my prediction. Take it for what it’s worth. I have no inside knowledge. There’s nothing magic here. It’s just as a product developer and seeing what other companies are doing, how long even Blue Dragon’s been working on getting their printer out into market and that’s just starting to happen now.
But they don’t have the resources that Mattel has. I’m going to say it’s going to come out but it’s going to be more limited in scope than they planned. That’s my prediction on that one. What else you got there?
Let’s see, in terms of predictions, I think we’re going to see a couple of companies go away in 2017. I really do. I think that the maker enthusiast market, and I’m not even going to say education market. I’m talking about the people that these makers really sell to that type of level company or it’s really maker space, DIY, maybe build your own printer kind of focus. There’s going to be a shakeout in that market.
I think that that market has reached a level or is rapidly reaching a level of saturation of the kind of customers that in general, like a MatterHackers appeals to or like I said, DeezMaker or the TAZ LulzBot printers. People love those printers. There’s nothing wrong with those 3D printers. Please guys, I’m not knocking them. It takes a certain kind of advanced technical user to use those. I think that those type of people have already been in to 3D printing for a few years and there’s very limited amount of them still getting into it. The emerging market is more in people who are less technical.
I think the difference is that because of the saturation of the market, that those printers are now looking expensive compared to ones that are more all in one, less fuss, not DIY in any way, shape or form, more reliable. In comparison, they look more expensive because while you still may be paying 300 bucks, for 300 bucks, you can get an XYZ that pretty much runs. The comparison in the cost wise, they haven’t advanced enough in their reliability, their servicing, all of those things.
3D Print Predictions – Market Shakeout
I think the real reason that I’m seeing it is we’re seeing it in three fronts. Marketing dollars being spent. There are companies that have backed off of advertising, backed off of all the marketing. I haven’t seen newsletters come out of them. Their blog posts are falling off, even their social media teams have gotten like where they used to have people they have already taken and moved on to other jobs. We’re starting to see a lot of movement there in the jobs and where their people are switching because they see a sinking ship. That’s why I think that there’s going to be a shakeout.
I think there’s going to be a shakeout all over, not just in that sort of level of market. I think it’s because those that are not growing their market share by investing in that market and then still just continue to pour more money into the next version and the next version and the next version are wasting their time and they’re missing the future market and they haven’t grown fast enough and built up enough revenue base to continue moving them forward and they’re going to run out of money.
One of those companies that I think, and now by saying this I’m sure they’ll probably never going to want to advertise on our show. I’m going to give you my honest opinion anyway, is I think M3D is one of those companies that may go away. We saw their second Kickstarter this past year was ten percent. I think technically it was considered a success because they achieved their goal, but they didn’t achieve it with anything close to what they did in their first one. We reviewed their printer this year and, I don’t know, to me I don’t see that company with those printers. They just did what Tracy had suggested. They had the small one and they made a little bit bigger one is what they did. There was nothing new. You didn’t grow your market. They still sold even less of them so they had an even less numbers of people on Kickstarter who funded it.
This is where we’re seeing a lot. We see also quite a few companies who think they want to enter in this market but they basically are not getting up and doing the marketing required. If you are not going to market, you are not going to make it. We’ve learned from just about everyone who’s ran a successful Kickstarter campaign in this market that you must spend $25,000 to $30,000 to even achieve a million dollars. Or even achieve half a million dollars. $400,000, that’s your goal, you better be spending $30,000. In the right ways too.
There’s only a handful of marketing companies who do a good job with that and who are successful doing it. If you don’t know what you’re doing there, to me, at the end of the day, what we know from launching hundreds of products, lots and lots products, every day we launch products on Amazon for our clients. Products are launching all the time here. The money you need to reserve, the money you need to spend is in growing that market share. It is not in the product itself, the product is one thing. You need to be special but you don’t need to be everything.
3D Print Predictions – Better Marketing and Better Educational Curriculum Development
I think that it also goes beyond the machine. I think some of the companies that are succeeding better and going to be around are the ones that are building bigger eco systems that are helping in terms of educational curriculum. There are lots of different aspects. Marketing, I think they all struggle with marketing to a large degree. I think it’s because they think of marketing like, “Let’s place an ad. Let’s post on social media.”
It’s not that. Marketing is as important what you print as your sample for your machine is marketing. If you print the same thing as everybody else, what is the answer? Oh, your printer’s the same as everybody else. Your print object that you print that becomes the most photographed thing in your world should not be the little elephant tape holder or whatever that thing is, business card holder. The little elephant business card holder. How many times has that been printed? If your printer can print that, you are the same as everyone else. You’ve already sent a visual signal that says, “You’re exactly the same.”
If you want to differentiate yourself, if you want to do that, then you better show off the thing that’s so amazing about your printer with a completely original print. That’s something to invest in. These are kinds of things. If you’re not investing in ways that are giving those cues and signals and messages to customers, you’re not going to exist next year.
3D Print Predictions – Multicolor 3D Printers
I got another one. 2017 is going to be the year where we are going to finally have a real practical capable and affordable FFF 3D printer that does more than one color and does it well, something that I’d be happy with and you’d be happy with. There’d been a lot of attempts and we’ve wanted it from the first day we started 3D printing and a lot of other people have too. I think 2017 is the year. There’s enough new ones coming out and enough technology that has been maybe a little half-baked that I think is going to get fully baked. Here’s the prediction, I bet we, here at WTFFF, not only review one but have one, decide to keep it or buy it and have it here in our studio for use. That’s my prediction.
Tracy may disagree with me, and it’s not that I don’t think that we’re going to try a lot of those printers this coming year, I think we will. What I think is that I think it still is going to be a software failure. I think that the dollars haven’t been spent because I think the slicing, the software, the support for it hasn’t been done. That’s what my concern is.
It’s not even that it hasn’t been done like they don’t know how to try to do two color but they don’t understand two color like we understand two color. How you’re going to incorporate, how you want to use it. They’re not printers, they’re not people who print, they’re not designers. They’re people that are coding and people that are engineers and technicians and they’re not product developers or designers and they’re not maybe the consumers who would want certain things.
I think unless I’m willing, and this is me saying that, unless I’m willing to allow you to spend a lot of time constantly hacking the machine to make it do what we want it to do and we have that kind of time, which we don’t normally, I really still don’t see us having one here. That’s why I’m saying I don’t think it’ll be this year. I think the number one indicator is that, look, we’ve been probably the most vocal wanting a two color and not one person has reached out to us to test anything yet, to give them a test print, to talk about our restrictions, talk about what we want. Not one person. Also I think the color is a failure. The color’s going to be a failure. You can’t mix filament colors like that. It doesn’t work.
I’m not talking about mixing. I’m not necessarily talking about mixing filament colors, which some of them may have capability to do that. I’m talking about multicolor 3D prints making that practical. We’ve tested some that have the capability to print more than one color from a hardware perspective but the software, you’re right, wouldn’t work. It didn’t put the colors in all the right places.
You still can’t do it, unless you want to just make those cones where they’re multiple colors. Unless you want to make color separated products, which is not the goal I think. You need to make it more sophisticated than that. Color placement, you also have to rethink the way that you are choosing filament colors, the palette that you put together. Primary colors just don’t work like that. Not one person has reached out to ask us because I’ve mentioned that, I don’t know, probably a dozen podcast over the last 400. Ask me what I mean about that. When that happens, then I think we’re within a year of it being reality.
I think I’ve seen some indications from a few different manufacturers and I think that there will be a machine that is capable and there will be software that is much better than it’s been. Will it still be what we want? No, it’s not going to be Photoshop. It’s going to be like Windows Paint in comparison. I still think it’s going to be able to achieve some things we haven’t been able to, we’ve been wanting to. I think it’ll get to the point where we have one here. Anyway, difference of opinion, that’s fine. That’s my prediction.
3D Print Predictions and Resolutions
No, I’m good with those predictions. Those seem just fine. I think that from a resolutions standpoint, I think that this next year, either we’re going to go full board into building a 3D print division or we’re never going to do it. It’s either going to be this year or it’s not going to be at all. Either it’s going to be we’re going to have a full 3D print service part of our business, design part of our business, or we’re not going to do it at all. We’re going to make a decision this year about whether or not we’re going to do it or not.
My prediction would be we’re going to decide to do it then rather than not. I think that that’s going to happen this year. We’re either going to decide to … It’s not like we’re not going to use 3D printing, we are, but we use it with our clients all the time. It’s a part of our process, but whether or not it’s really going to become a business on its own is the difference and not just a blog or podcast business.
We’ve been very vocal about how we’ve been waiting and considering what to do in this industry in a bigger way.I think we’re honing in on that, I’m still super motivated and excited to do it. Business is a complex thing as you know and anybody else in business knows. We’ll see.
My resolution is that we will have a product line this year. We will have some of our best tools, our best things out there that we are going to make sure that are available to you as our listeners. We’re going to have a 3D Start Point line of products. Meaningful products. Not designs, not 3D designs. Starting with some accessories for 3D printing that are very practical and things that we use every day that make 3D printing easier for us that you’ll be able to use to make your experience 3D printing better and easier for you. That we can predict because I think we pretty much know we’re doing that. We’re going to do that. It’s not there yet but we’re within a couple of months of that happening. That’s prediction number two.
I think I’ve gone out on a limb and predicted a few things there already. My resolution for 2017, it sort of jives with what you were saying about products and things we’re developing. To me for 2017, my resolution is to design a lot more 3D printable, 3D printed products than I did in 2016. It’s been a while since we did the twist tie and some other things that we’ve done and we’ve been busy with other areas of business.
Now it’s time to outdo the tie several times over and come up with some new products. Maybe we won’t sell them all, maybe we’ll let other people sell them, other companies that are selling similar things. As a 3D printed end use product, we’re going to develop a bunch more this year in 2017.
That’s a good resolution. I’d like to see that happen. I have a long list of things I like to see 3D printed or designs then. We’ll see.
Anyway, we hope you guys had a great year with us. We’ve had a great year with you and we really thank you so much for getting us to 400 episodes. It makes it so easy knowing you are listening out there and that you are as passionate about 3D printing as we are and as passionate about making this market grow and our skills all grow as a group. We’d love to hear what your resolutions and predictions are and things that you’d like to see from us in the next 100 or 200 episodes next year. Please reach out to us anywhere in the comments below this post. Of course anywhere on social media @3DStartPoint. Thanks so much everybody. We look forward to being with you in the New Year.
- Adaptive Manufacturing of 3D Print Wearables with Wiivv
- ThingMaker by Mattel, Is This a Game Changer?
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