As can be seen in the Gartner Hype Curve diagram above, 3D printing has passed the innovation trigger and Peak of Inflated Expectations and is now headed for the Trough of Disillusionment. The trough is a dip befor the gradual rise in the Slope of Enlightment and eventually the Plateau of productivity.
To undestand the above graph and description, it is necessary to define a few terms.
Each Hype Cycle drills down into the five key phases of a technology’s life cycle.
- Innovation Trigger: A potential technology breakthrough kicks things off. Early proof-of-concept stories and media interest trigger significant publicity. Often no usable products exist and commercial viability is unproven.
- Peak of Inflated Expectations: Early publicity produces a number of success stories — often accompanied by scores of failures. Some companies take action; many do not.
- Trough of Disillusionment: Interest wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver. Producers of the technology shake out or fail. Investments continue only if the surviving providers improve their products to the satisfaction of early adopters.
- Slope of Enlightenment: More instances of how the technology can benefit the enterprise start to crystallize and become more widely understood. Second- and third-generation products appear from technology providers. More enterprises fund pilots; conservative companies remain cautious.
- Plateau of Productivity: Mainstream adoption starts to take off. Criteria for assessing provider viability are more clearly defined. The technology's broad market applicability and relevance are clearly paying off.