That rate of growth is expected to increase each year over the next three years. By 2018, Gartner forecast shipments worldwide to top more than 2.4 million units.
The report points to the popularity of lower-cost, “plug-and-print” machines that require little or no technological knowledge to use. Users simply plug the machines into their desktops or laptops, upload 3D CAD images and hit “print.”
“As we noted last year, the 3D printer market is at an inflection point,” said Pete Basiliere, research vice president at Gartner. “Unit shipment growth rates for 3D printers, which languished in the low single and double digits per year throughout the 30 years since the first 3D printers were invented, are poised to increase dramatically beginning in 2015.”
As radical as the forecast numbers may seem, Basiliere noted that even the 2.4 million shipments Gartner expects to be sold in 2018 is still “a small fraction of the total potential market of consumers, businesses and government organizations worldwide.”
Gartner includes seven technologies in the 3D printer market that will propel growth, including the material extrusion products used to print objects. Two main thermoplastics dominate: PLA (Polylactic acid) and ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene).
The primary drivers for consumer-grade 3D printers include lower prices (below $1,000), improved performance and expanded global availability. The primary drivers for the enterprise 3D printer market are the viability of the technologies for rapid product prototyping and manufacturing coupled with lower 3D printer costs, improved quality and a wider range of materials, Gartner said.
Stanford University graduate students have created an 3D printer attachment that lays down functioning circuitry right alongside the thermoplastic extruder head of an existing machine, enabling it to make functioning electronic prototypes.
“Our project enables 3D printers to deposit conductive material along with traditional plastic. The conductive material can be embedded within the 3D model and printed in the same 3D printing process,” said Alex Jais, one of three students that created the print head.
The Rabbit Proto (short for prototype) 3D print head is designed to fit onto several different versions of a RepRap printer. RepRap printers are a style of machine designed to print most of their own components. For the most part, a RepRap printer can reproduce itself by extruding acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) or Polylactic acid (PLA), or other forms of thermopolymers.
“There are so many RepRap machines out there. This is a great way to bring this capability to other machines,” Jais said.
The Rabbit Proto attachment enables designers and makers to speed up their prototyping and ideation process, going from computer design to interactive prototype with a click of a mouse.
A past prototype of the Rabbit Proto created parts of conductive circuits embedded within puzzle pieces. As the puzzle pieces were connected, a functioning circuit was created.
Rabbit Proto is an open source project. The printer head attachment is a syringe with a 1.37 millimeter nozzle that dispenses conductive ink — up to 10cc’s at a time. So far, the machine has used silver-filled silicone, but the engineers are now working with Bare Conductive, a company that makes conductive inks out of graphite paste.
Because it’s an open source project, its creators are counting on outside developers to add functionality as the technology matures.
Jais created the Rabbit Proto project, along with fellow mechanical engineering student Rohan Maheshwari and Manal Dia, a juris doctorate student with a background in electrical engineering.
The Rabbit Proto project’s creators were originally going to seek funding and other help from Stanford’s StartX, non-profit organization whose mission is to accelerate the development of the school’s top entrepreneurs.
But then the student engineers created a working prototype whose final designs were “98% complete”, and decided instead to create a start-up company once they graduate this summer.
Warhammer 40K owner Games Workshop has confirmed a new licensing deal with Roadhouse Interactive to develop new titles for mobile space based on the franchise. The developer, who is based in Vancouver, describes the new Warhammer title as a side screening action game.
While Roadhouse confirms that the game is in development, the end mobile platforms that will see the released version of the game are still up in the air at the moment; but more information is sure to be coming in the months ahead, according to the studio.
The Warhammer 40K has had others attempts to capture the tabletop war game in video form before. These Warhammer offerings have met with mixed reviews, but this new title from Roadhouse will be a first for Warhammer 40K in the mobile space.
If you are a Warhammer 40K fanboy and have been waiting for the release of the game by publisher THQ. Be advised that Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine you are likely not going to be happy with some of the talk that happening on the official forums. Apparently, while the posting was removed, the word is that multiplayer Co-Op for the game is off the table at release.
The rumors seem to indicate that while the developers are committed to the multiplayer Co-OP and they still plan to add it, they need more time to do it right; and with the crunch to finish the game right now the effort needs to go into finishing the main game.
The word is that the multiplayer Co-Op will follow the release of the game in about 30 days after the game ships in an update of the game. THQ has not confirmed that this is officially the way it is going down, but it seems (despite the removal of the post) those in the forums believe that this will be the case.
The online game is a first-person shooter and players can take part in individual or group missions. The game, which features PLA weaponry and realistic battle scenarios, took 32 months to complete, the newspaper reported.
“I think it is possible the game will be made open online for Chinese military fans to download and play,” an anonymous PLA publicity officer was quoted as saying.
The final version of the game was launched on June 20.
China, home to the world’s largest Internet market by users, has more than 300 million online gamers, according to government statistics.
China’s online game market was worth 8.5 billion yuan ($1,31 billion) in the first quarter.