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3D Printers: A Fad or The Future?

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3D Printers: A Fad or The Future?
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Try to remember back when a phone was just a phone. When your TV set was just a TV and when the word ‘tablet’ referred only to a pad of paper. Now think about a printer. What if someone were to tell you that a printer could revolutionize the world as you know it…Sound unlikely?

For a regular Hewlett-Packard printer, yes definitely, but we’re not talking about your standard printer of course. We’re talking about the 3D printer and the act of 3D printing.

How does it work? In a nutshell, 3D printers can take a unique idea that you have and with the help of computer aided design (CAD) software, “print” it into a three-dimensional object. The artistic possibilities are practically limitless.

However, the practical possibilities and potential economic impact that 3D printing could have on manufacturers, business owners, consumers and on the world economy, are also very exciting things to think about. 3D printers have already helped save the lives of children. One company has even received funding from NASA to continue work on a “universal food synthesizer”—a 3D printer that can make food. Its creators hope that it might one day help put an end to hunger.

With advances in 3D printing technology being made every day and predictions that the cost of owning a 3D printer could become more affordable for consumers, it seems that this technological innovation might be here to stay. Of course, we here at SurveyMonkey like to stick to the data rather than make assumptions!

Using SurveyMonkey Audience, a powerful product that helps find a specific panel of respondents, we surveyed over 300 Americans to get their thoughts. We wanted to find out how familiar they are with 3D printing technology, would they ever want to own one in the future and do they believe the hype? Could a 3D printer really change the world?

Here’s what we discovered.

Clearly, there’s plenty of room for the makers of 3D printers to widely market their product. Less than 1% of survey respondents reported having heard of the 3D printer and its technology with nearly half saying they’d never heard of either at 47%.

For the first time, 3D printers are now readily available to consumers. You can walk into your local Staples store and if you have $1300 to spare, you can take home the Cube–your very own printer capable of printing physical objects that are up to 5.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches, in 16 different colors.

But how about that price? Until more people become more familiar with what exactly 3D printers can create, the high cost could prove to be an obstacle. So what if the price were significantly lower? How would that affect peoples’ decisions on whether to purchase one or not?

Well over half of people’s minds would not be changed with 61% stating they were only “Slightly likely” and “Not at all likely” to buy a printer of their own regardless if it were affordable. Only 10% said they’d be all over owning one.

In light of the world’s very first 3D-printed handgun hitting the media waves, some worry that this could signify the beginning of a world where anyone with access to a 3D printer could easily create weapons of any kind. But is weaponry what Americans are most interested in making if 3D printing becomes more commonplace in homes and businesses?

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives can breathe easier if they’re reading. The majority of folks are not at all into the idea of making their own weapons. They’d much rather print things like kitchen utensils, light fixtures, small parts for the home and furniture than anything else (22%) with items like toys and musical instruments a close second at 18%.

So is 3D printing just for industry experts, hobbyists and high tech fans destined to go the way of the Hoverboard or will it soon become just another everyday item like your office Hewlett-Packard that prints out good ole-fashioned paper?

Survey says–they’re here to stay. Over half of respondents acknowledge that we’ll probably be hearing more and more about 3D printers and 3D printing technology. It’s tough to remember now how cellphones didn’t use to be the norm when they’re such a central part of our daily lives today. We might be saying the very same thing about 3D printers in the not-too-distant-future. We look forward to finding out!

Ready to get started with your own SurveyMonkey Audience project? Click here to learn more and don’t forget to leave us your feedback in the Comments section below!

Image courtesy of MakerBot

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  • I am disappointed the graphs for this survey were not printed in 3D.

    • Kayte K

      That would be so cool, right? :)

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