2014 prediction: 3-D printing will see bump

News Jason Cannon December 30, 2013

For each of the past 33 years, The University of Alabama’s Office of Media Relations offers predictions from faculty experts for the coming year.

While the university noted “educated guesses” don’t always come true, the school’s track record over the years has been pretty good.

Among their 2014 predictions is additive manufacturing, commonly called 3-D printing, will be more available as prices on printers drop, but 3-D printers will not be a must-have product for consumers in 2014, predicts Dr. Andrew Graettinger, director of The University of Alabama 3-D Printing Lab and associate professor in the department of civil, construction and environmental engineering.

“We’re seeing really nice printers come down in price, but it’s not quite there yet for the general consumer,” Graettinger says.

Stores are carrying 3-D printers for as low at $2,000, and tech-savvy people who need them for projects will continue to be early adopters, he says. Still, it is a few years, at least, before quality printers are inexpensive enough for most people to have.

“Household printing is going to take more time to take off, but we may see some stores offering 3-D Printing services in the coming year.”