So apparently there has been a survey on whether Americans do or do not want a 3D printer in their living rooms in the near future and as it turns out: one in three Americans is ready for an in-house 3D printer. A third of the Americans therefore wants to buy a 3D printer in 2014. Quite remarkable stats: are we ready for the next step in 3D printing? Or are we not that far yet?
Well, let’s start with making some necessary critical points, because – at first – this whole study was carried out by a 3D printing company, called CEL Robox. How objective can you be when you’re part of the 3D printing industry yourself? A second critical point about this survey has to do with the number of people who were asked whether they would buy a 3D printer, which was only 1000. Of course, for a decent, significant survey not more than 1000 people are required, but can 1000 people speak for the entire United States of America, a republic consisting of as many as 50 states? Well, decide yourself.
Despite that, there are some interesting findings about this survey, because what makes it interesting is the question what the respondents would actually want to do with an in-house 3D printer. Of this one third of all respondents, 65 percent of them is interested in creating and printing customized items at home. 36 percent of them is mostly interested in the idea of printing out everyday items instead of buying them in a store, while 35 percent wants to print out items to help restore things around the house.
33 percent wants to buy a 3D printer in order to create personalized gifts for friends and family and 28.5 percent wants to create personalized accessories of their gadgets. Then 21 percent was interested in the idea of 3D printing customized jewelry and accessories and ten percent wants a 3D printer to invent and prototype new products or technologies.
What I am trying to day, and I think Forbes’s TJ McCue – who has written an interesting article on this subject – agrees with me on that, is that this survey, carried out by a 3D printing company, is somehow questionable. However, it does show something interesting for the 3D printing industry, because it accurately points out what people find interesting about in-house 3D printing.
But, and we surely don’t want to rain of the industry’s parade, before 3D printing can become a big thing for the mass market, there are some drastic changes to be made. A lot of people don’t know that using a desktop 3D printer at home can be similar to smoking a cigarette.
Last year’s July, researchers at Illinois Institute of Technology and the National Institute of Applied Sciences in Lyon, France researched this subject and discovered some serious health risks with 3D printing at home. 3D printers release emissions, which contain ultrafine particles (UFPs). Such particles can have a negative effect on a person’s health, as it can settle in the lungs or even the bloodstream. Exposure to UFP’s could cause lung disease or high stress. As you can imagine, especially asthma patients are very vulnerable in this case.
In defense of 3D printers, it depends on whether a person uses PLA filament or ABS, as ABS emits up to 200 billion UFP’s per minute, while PLA emits ‘only’ 20 particles per minute. The higher the amount of UFP’s, the bigger is the health risk. On the side, ABS contains more risks, because the plastic also contains BPA, an industrial chemical called ‘bisphenol A’. There are some studies, which have shown a correlation between the chemical and cancer or heart problems.
Image credits: riptapparel.com.