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DIY manufacturing revolution a long way off, says 3D printing expert

Terry Wohlers, President of consulting firm Wohlers Associates and an influential 3D printing analyst, has lamented the hype around 3D printing and downplayed the talk of a “personal manufacturing revolution” driven by the technology.

Wolhers, whose firm puts together the closely-watched annual 
Wohlers Report, has been tracking additive manufacturing for over a quarter of a century, and said the possibilities surrounding the process are being overblown.

“It’s unsettling to read this oversimplification (of 3D printing technology) where you push a button and out pops a shiny new thing,” he told Forbes.

Wohlers has recently criticised errors of fact in reporting on 3D printing, and has pointed out that rather than shiny new things popping out with ease, the design and printing processes both take hours.

He also told the magazine that most of the growth in the 3D printing industry was coming from industry, downplaying the talk of a “personal manufacturing revolution”, which has been suggested is on the horizon in books such as Makers, published last year.

Personal use of 3D printers tended to be a hobby often quickly abandoned, according to Wohlers.

“They (hobbyists) generally print out a part or two and forget about it (the machine),” he said.

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