When Will 3D Printing Go Mainstream?

When Will 3D Printing Go Mainstream?

Today, we have Vicente Gasco, founder of Tredé and a professor of 3D printing at Atlantic University College. He’s sharing his views on 3D printing, and the challenges that it must overcome before it can become the Third Industrial Revolution. Do you agree? Leave a comment below and share with us what you think! 

Let me start boldly: before a Third Industrial Revolution happens, a 3D printing education revolution must precede it. As desktop 3D printers become cheaper and 3D modeling software becomes easier, desktop 3D printing adoption will continue to grow. Yet, groundbreaking applications aren’t that common. The kind of applications that can push desktop 3D printing from hobbyists and printing novelty plastic trinkets to mainstream use.

The key reasons behind why 3D printing is among the most promising emerging technologies isn’t that straightforward. Access to desktop manufacturing questions the current way we design, manufacture and distribute every product we consume. Going from a product idea to a prototype in half a day cost­-effectively is truly powerful and so is the capacity of customizing products and meeting low volume production hyper­-locally. The ideas have been there for years but yet,  only a few are exploiting them.

assembly line Third Industrial Revolution

The reason it isn’t happening is because 3D printing education is too superficially amateur, skill­centric and non­theoric. We need to move beyond the traditional 3D modeling and 3D printing workshops— 3D printing should not be the topic but the means to. It should be the means to social entrepreneurship, to local product manufacturing that adjust and meet hyperlocal needs and demands. Traditional manufacturing will eventually face its real costs: environmental, laboral and transportational ones. As that happens, 3D printing will continue to evolve and eventually become the go-­to manufacturing process of choice. It is already taking over customizable products such as hearing ­aid products, dental and several other medical applications.

classroom Third Industrial Revolution

We’re still not there, but in the meantime, the Third Industrial Revolution will spark through education. It is not only about offering a wider skill set to face future challenges, but improve analytical, mathematical and problem­ solving skills through heuristic reasoning, creativity and making. In the short run, working with 3D printers involve real life implementation of knowledge students often fail to understand the value of, such as mathematics, metrics, measurement conversions, physics, chemistry and engineering among others. Ultimately, 3D printing could become the mainstream go-­to problem­ solving tool next­-gen users will adopt and then, the third industrial revolution will become an historical fact.

We’d love to hear from you! 

If you have expertise or knowledge on the 3D printing industry, feel free to share any information or thoughts in the comments below.  

If you’re looking for something new to print, head over to Pinshape to find some designs! 

Until next time, Pinshapers!







Vicente Gascó is a product designer specialized in 3d printing and digital fabrication technologies. Founder of Tredé, a 3D printing product design studio and low volume fabrication. Tredé is currently recognized as Puerto Rico’s 3D printing pioneers with a portfolio that includes several industries and clients such as marketing communications giant J. Walter Thompson, high education institutes such as Arecibo Observatory Space Academy, UPR Medical Science Campus, Sistema Universitario Ana G Mendez, Boys & Girls Club Puerto Rico, Museum of Art of Puerto Rico among others. 



Pinshape is a 3D printing community and marketplace where makers from all over the world can find and share their next great 3D print and help each other get the best results from their 3D printers.

  • Some good points made here for sure. I think in general the broader reason behind lack of widespread adoption is ease of use through the whole workflow. From idea to CAD to slicing to printing, there needs to be a lot less variables, more reliability and more integrated solutions so that the average person doesn’t have a huge learning curve to get to success. Right now you need to understand 3D design, technical settings and limitations and also be able to fix mechanical issues with your printer, a pretty big barrier to entry for a lot of people that just want to pick a file and press ‘Print’.

  • In our experienced opinion there are roadblocks to ubiquity for desktop 3D Printing.
    1. We MUST have a “Model-T” printer… i.e., easy to use, easy to fix, a defacto standard which all the follow-ons conform to. We do not have it yet.
    2. The current object files are not robust enough. “.stl” and “.obj” cannot retain info that is needed including print object positioning, print settings, DRM, etc.
    3. The approach to selling and supporting is not sufficient. All online for support is absurd for the masses. Support has to be face too face. Sales has to include hand holding support as opposed to unmanned, static displays that are popping up at all the big box retailers.
    4. The mkt place for objects is not there yet and it won’t be until all of the above are worked out.
    We discuss all of these issues in our weekly, FREE and without ads podcast; 3D Printing Today. threedprintintoday.com

  • Vicente Gascó

    I totally agree Nick. The workflow definetely needs to get easier for widespread adoption even though that usually entails loss of freedom. Thanks for commenting.

  • Vicente Gascó

    Excellent observations. Current formats are definetely not enough. A few companies have announced that they’re currently developing new 3d printing formats. Hopefully they’re more oriented towards solving current issues and not only propietary protection. Thank you for commenting.

  • You nailed it with that word ‘workflow’ – it’s something we talk about everyday at my university. Having been to a number of 3D printing conferences, I have seen Terry Wohlers give numerous keynotes and he is always very clear to state that there is no such thing as a consumer-friendly 3D printer yet (despite what the marketing from many companies will lead you to believe!). Until you can Ctrl+p as easily as you can for your basic inkjet printer, 3D printers are just well outside the capabilities of the average person.

    But it’s also likely that 3D printing will never be in every home – there’s every possibility that 3D printing hubs (not the company) will spring up in your local area (already seen through Staples in the USA and now being trialed by Officeworks in Australia), and when you need something like a replacement part for your washing machine you can go there and have someone print it for you on better quality machines than you could afford at home.

    Just my 2 cents 🙂

  • I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this post. I’m trusting a similar high-review site post from you in the up and coming too as it helpful for everyone