Leading technology analyst firm Gartner’s annual chart plotting the position of various technologies on the Hype Cycle curve, the “The Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies” has been released for 2012 , with 3DPrinting sat right at the very peak. The Hype Cycle is a theory proposing that technologies follow a series of stages in their life-cycle:
- Technology Trigger – invention and initial use
- Peak Of Inflated Expectations – when hype outstrips reality
- Trough of Disillusionment – mass realisation that the hype outstrips reality
- Slope Of Enlightenment – innovaters successfully make good use of the tech
- Plateau of Productivity – when everyone can make good use of the technology
At the top of the Peak of Inflated Expectations, Hype City, before The Trough of Disillusionment, sits 3DPrinting. There is an ever more rapidly increasing mass of media reporting regarding the revolutionary potential of a 3DPrinting 3rd Industrial revolution... The short term potential of 3DP is indeed a game changer, as discussed in previous articles – but the longer term, more revolutionary potential of the process will take much more innovation, development, and experimental application.
With this borne in mind, the budding entrepreneurial, home hobbist, business owner will make it through the hype and crash phases with a realistic perspective intact to maximise that potential.
We see the hype cycle anything in the view of the public eye in the age of instant mass media – twitter trends can fall and rise in an hour, self-propagated movie pre-release hype has a life expectancy of months at most.
An emerging technology, particularly a disruptive, process changing one, will generally have a slower formative journey.
How the world of 3DP looks in 2020 will be one of widescale application of the technology, but, one where familiarisation takes longer than that of the PC, digital technology, and mobile technology – all of which were based around the premise of rapid information processing.Rapid item processing is something a little more science fiction to the vast majority of peoples imagination. This is not just another screen to interact with.
If the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs of the 3DPrinting world are to emerge they will do so in the next decade however.
How that shapes up, particularly with the potential of 3DP to democracise production on many products, using concepts such as open-source, self-replication and crowd-funding, may be one of producing many small producers rather than a few monolithic corporations such as Microsoft and then Apple became to personal computing… or will this be a trend that is captured and moulded by existing large corporations such as the newly involved Amazon? Time, as they say, will tell…