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What’s Happened to the Promise of 3D Printing?

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Do you recall the advent of 3D printing? You may have seen some really nifty items in your local Staples that were printed using 3D technology. The idea was that 3D printing was now poised to go mainstream.

The Problem: The Market

MakerBot is the company that promised to usher in this new age of consumer printing back in 2009. Problem is it’s not happened. They’ve since laid off 20% of their staff two times in 2015. This article from Mashable explains one reason why consumers are staying away. It’s too hard to use the printers!

Apparently MakerBot or its parent got the message last year as they have pivoted and are trying to target schools more than consumers. This pivot in strategy will hopefully prevent additional layoffs while the market decides just how interested it is in 3D printing.

Are You Listening?

This brings us to your company. Are you pursuing a market that’s not there (at least to the degree that you once thought)? Are you listening to what the market is saying? Are you holding strategy and brainstorming sessions to determine how to change course?

What’s happened to MakerBot and 3D consumer printing in general is a clear warning to be careful about believing in your own vision too strongly.

  • There are times to hold fast and then there are times to move on. The key is knowing the difference.

This type of thinking might also hold true when it comes to a person you’ve hired.

  • By what time should they show the promise you saw in them when you brought them on to the team? Or, alternatively, should they be placed in a different position that better utilizes their talents?

I believe we can learn a lot from the MakerBot story and apply that thinking to our businesses. This is about much more than 3D printing.

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Michael Neuendorff

Strategic Business Coach at The Growth Coach
Michael Neuendorff is a versatile business coach, trainer and speaker. He helps professionals and small business owners grow personally and professionally through a combination of new knowledge, more purposeful action, and a fresh mindset. Michael specializes in the areas of sales, online marketing, public speaking, and strategic planning. Michael holds an Advertising degree from Arizona State University.

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