3D Printing your Royal Ascot Hats

POSTED BY Nitin Bhas
Last week in the UK, the Telegraph reported how ‘cutting-edge 3D printing and avant-garde fashion have been brought together by milliner Gabriela Ligenza to create a unique hat for Royal Ascot’. The hat was printed by converting a poem, written by racing poet Henry Birtles based on the event, into a 3D design.

Exciting as it may be for the average user, consumer 3D printer shipments are at relatively low levels, representing a limited opportunity in the medium term. However, as our recent research suggests, Juniper expects them to increase significantly in the longer term. Industry leaders, including 3D Systems and Stratasys, confirmed a stronger demand for professional 3D printers and materials compared to a softer consumer demand.

Such unique ideas are critical in converting 3D printing into a mass market success; for example the opportunity to create everyday objects - something unique and personalised, which is not available in stores already – provides vendors and developers with a long term opportunity. As I noted in a previous blog, it is still very early days for the consumer offering, and the technology has yet to really capture the consumer’s imagination.

So then what will drive this market going forward? We think that, as with the mobile device ecosystem, content will be critical to the success of consumer 3D printing. In order for 3D printing to successfully find a mainstream market amongst consumers, it needs to widen the applications available that integrate consumer lifestyle and drive a number of applications beyond professional printing.

The reported entry of HP and Epson into the professional market, along with the development of an appropriate ecosystem of software, apps and materials, will further educate and drive the mass market. Consequently, the combined market value from consumer 3D Printer hardware sales and material spend is forecast to exceed the $1 billion mark by 2018, compared to just over $75 million this year.