3D printing has expanded much faster than expected

Makerbot 3d printYouTube/MakerbotMakerbot printers have already begun entering some classrooms.

Most people still don’t own a 3D printer in their home, but the technology has come pretty far in terms of consumer awareness during the last few years.

Gartner published its annual Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies report on Tuesday, which features a chart showing the evolution of emerging technologies from their early beginnings to mass adoption in five stages.

The report also predicts when each technology will become mainstream.

While Gartner predicts it will be another five to 10 years before the tech takes off with consumers, the chart reveals that consumer 3D printing has moved quickly through the first three stages of Gartner’s hype cycle compared to other technologies during the last five years.

Hype cycle 2013GartnerGartner’s 2011 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies

Consumer 3D printing has been out of its hype phase for the last two years and is currently in the “Trough of Disillusionment” stage. This is period right after peak hype when consumers begin to lose interest and companies in the space either establish their permanence or fail.

After a shakeout, the industry will enter the fourth phase in the cycle known as the “Slope of Enlightenment.” This is when the tech becomes more widely understood and companies begin to see the value of using it, according to Gartner.

Gartner Hype Cycle 2015GartnerGartner’s 2015 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies

According to the report, consumers are aware of the technology but the price point for personal printers, which ranges from a few hundred dollars to more than $US1,000, is still to high for mass adoption.

However, in the near-term the growing consumer use of 3D printing will stem from buying printed goods made by artists, consumer goods companies, and other retailers who do the printing for the consumer.

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