In their annual Hype Cycle report technology research firm Gartner has moved 3D printing up a notch from last year. It is now entering the phase of what they call the peak of inflated expectations.
Gartner defines this phase as:
Early publicity produces a number of success stories — often accompanied by scores of failures. Some companies take action; many do not.
Based on the news articles about 3D printing the last couple of months I tend to agree. The media are writing about 3D printing if it revolutionize manufacturing today, but this is simply not true. It will revolutionize manufacturing in the next decade or so. There are still many hurdles to overcome like machine and production reliability, speed, cost and diversity.
Please see the Hype Cycle diagram below to see how Gartner sees the technology landscape at this moment.
The Hype Cycle reports on up and coming technologies today and puts them in 5 phases based on their maturity and visibility. The diagram below shows the relationship between maturity and visibility for each of the 5 phases. For more information see the Hype Cycle page at Gartner.
Fortunately, a lot of technologies go through this Hype Cycle and will become mainstream. Technologies in the peak of inflated expectations phase are expected to become mainstream in 5–10 years. Of course, according to Gartner.