The head of the world’s largest 3D printer company has said that every home will have a unit in the next two decades. Simon Shen is the CEO of XYZPrinting, which last year shipped more printers than any other company. He believes that the industry is waiting for a new idea, and all it needs is a big innovation that’ll make people see the need for 3D printers.
“I believe that everyone will have a 3D printer at their home, and office, and factories, Shen told TechCrunch in a story published Thursday. “Just like the self-driving car, 3D printers will be everywhere in 20 years.”
Shen may be onto something. Although they’ve largely disappeared off the news radar in recent years, 3D printers are still growing in speed. Data from Statista shows nearly half a million printers are expected to ship worldwide this year, around double the amount that shipped last year. By 2019, this figure is expected to reach 5.5 million.
3D printers are finding a niche in many industries. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is exploring the use of the devices out in the field, saving doctors costly trips to the nearest town, in countries where infrastructure may make transportation difficult. Nike is also considering using the technology in manufacturing, as 3D printers lend themselves well to making individual shoe parts.
Breaking out of small industry usage will require innovations. “We’re just waiting for the next evolution of the technology,” Shen told TechCrunch. “If they can do it much faster, more precise and easier, that will bring more people to 3D printers. Not waiting for four to six hours for a print, but 40 to 60 minutes.”