The future, at least for 3D printing, may need to become cheaper before it becomes more commercially viable to the wider public. Dezeen reports that 3D printing firm Makerbot, an early champion of the technology that pushed to popularize the "factory in your home" concept, was forced to shutter three retail locations and lay off 20% of its staff after missing sales forecasts. The company, founded by Bre Pettis in 2009, had been bought out by industrial 3D-printing giant Stratasys for $400 million in 2013.
A Gartner report quoted in the story says that prices for 3D printing machines, even Makerbot's relatively affordable models, are still too high for the average consumer. This downsizing comes amid relatively bullish predictions for the market as a whole. A report by Wohlers suggests the market could grow from roughly $3 billion in 2013 to $21 billion by 2020, as more and more companies utilize the technology for prototyping, product development and innovation, and new tech hubs and innovation spaces, such as the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute in Chicago, open or break ground. Makerbot itself has also has luck with the institutional and business markets, with plans to expand its Innovation Center concept.