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Widespread 3D Printing in Classrooms Still a Decade Out

 3d printing in education

While schools, colleges and universities have slowly begun adopting 3D printing technologies, mainstream adoption in education and among consumers is still a long way off, according to a new analysis by market research firm Gartner.

While about 200 manufacturers are currently making consumer-level 3D printers, the price points are still too high for most individuals and schools, according to the report, "Hype Cycle for 3D Printing, 2014," from Gartner. The firm put widespread consumer adoption at five to 10 years from now. For academic institutions, Gartner estimated an even longer timeframe owing to costs and difficulty of implementation — more than a decade (about the same time Gartner estimated macro 3D printing would become widespread).

"... [M]acro 3D printing of large structures and classroom 3D printing are more than 10 years away from mainstream adoption. This is not to say that valid use cases for each do not exist: the work on macro 3D printing shows great promise but has only just begun. Meanwhile, adoption of any new technology within secondary and post-secondary schools, even one as transformative as 3D printing, is always expensive and difficult to implement, especially when considered in relation to the explosion of other educational technology that is competing for attention in the classroom."

According to Gartner, the situation is complicated by the fact that 3D printing involves a number of technologies unfamiliar to consumers.

"Hype around home use obfuscates the reality that 3D printing involves a complex ecosystem of software, hardware and materials whose use is not as simple to use as 'hitting print' on a paper printer," said Pete Basiliere, research vice president at Gartner, in a prepared statement.

Gartner will be further highlighting its findings for the 3D printer market in upcoming Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2014 events around the world in the fall.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director, education for 1105 Media's Public Sector Media Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal. A 22-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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