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What do the Consolidating 3D Printing Industry and La Sagrada Família have in common?

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Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

I just got back from a wonderful trip to Barcelona with EO Boston .   One of the highlights of the trip was getting a guided tour of La Sagrada Família by Cesar Ramirez Martinell, one of the lead architects whose grandfather worked with Antoni Gaudi when he began in 1882, more than a century ago.

Cesar explained that as a young boy, Gaudi grew up watching his father produce metal cylinders and other three dimensional objects, which ultimately gave him the gift of thinking three dimensionally.  Cesar reported that the use of two on-site 3D printers has accelerated the expected completion date to 2026.

Later on that evening at dinner, I asked Cesar about how to engage my younger son Wyatt, who has expressed an interest and passion for building.    He encouraged me to invest in a desktop 3D printer and software, which would remove any constraints from what he could imagine and then build.

Interesting enough, I came across a recent press release from MakerBot, a leading desktop 3D printer, announcing that they will be selling their products through 300 Sam Club retailers, with the belief that providing accessibility to 3D printers in retail stores will help accelerate the overall adoption of 3D printing.

MakerBot is one of the dozen or so acquisitions Stratasys Ltd. (Nasdaq: SSYS), has made over the last two years.   One of the rationales for the acquisition was that it would help drive overall user adoption, an acquisition driver we discuss in our recently published 2014 Manufacturing Automation report.

From the variety of activity we discuss in that report, clearly 3D printing is an area which is still evolving and growing with the major public PLM corporations yet to engage in a meaningful way.  Autodesk, however has announced that it will be investing up to $100 million in 3D printing companies over the next several years. AutoDesk claims “The Spark Investment Fund, which will be operated within Autodesk, is the first of its kind for the 3D printing industry and will invest in entrepreneurs, startups, and researchers pushing the boundaries of 3D printing technology and accelerating the third industrial revolution.”

Watch this space in the future.  It is far from over.