How many RepRap's are 'out-there'
August 29, 2012 01:25PM
Came up in discussion today, and I found it very hard to estimate how many RepRap's are in the wild - anyone got any ideas? I thought it would be a good question to gauge what the community thought of how big the project is becoming and how fast it's expanding...

So I'm going to start with 100,000 machines - of which, maybe 20k not running smiling smiley

Too many? / little?

What about geography? I know from my blog where a lot of people in the world are looking at RepRap development.

Where do we think are they are still not yet being used? and for what reasons? cost, technology etc.


[richrap.blogspot.com]
Re: How many RepRap's are 'out-there'
August 29, 2012 02:32PM
That is an extremely hard thing to estimate accurately, since anyone anywhere could make one. I would think to estimate the total number of machines, you would try find suppliers of RepRap specific supplies like controller boards, extruder hot ends, or filament and see if they would disclose the number of customers the have sold to (which they probably won't). Although there are hundreds of sources of each, they all come from only a dozen or so root sources.

I think 100,000 is quite a bit on the high side. Makerbot (yes a repstrap) has sold a bit more than 10,000 in 3.5 years time, and there aren't any Makerbot sized RepRap distributors. Printrbot make 2000 Printrboards in it's first purchase, but there are only about 3000 Printrboards in existance. I would guess that all RepRaps together wouldn't top 30,000. Also, 20% non running rate is a bit on the low side, people get frustrated quite fast or they get a new machine and shelve the old ones, and a lot of RepRap "Kits" were disfunctional from the outset.

I am very curious to know how many exist as well.
Re: How many RepRap's are 'out-there'
August 29, 2012 02:48PM
Since most of them are run off existing microcontroller designs from this intitiative, if you could get an idea of how many of the various microcontrollers have been purchased or mfg'd, that would give a pretty solid value to any estimate. I have no idea how one would procure that data though.

In my opinion, cost is probably the single largest reason they're not more popular. I've already invested well over $500 in various pieces/parts for my impending build, and I haven't even purchased any feedstock yet. Not to mention I already had *most of the tooling I need to do the underlying work. (albeit, without a lathe, milling machine, etc.)

However, there's also visibility. It's only recently that they've really begun being visible outside working groups. Time will cure that. Time and quality of course. I showed my dad some parts a friend printed for my first machine and he was all but dumbfounded at what was possible, but he still commented on the quality of the prints, which isn't quite perfect.

Increasing precision, auto-tuning, simplifying use, prettifying them (for less technogeekish minded people who will change this from what it is to a consumer level product), figuring out how to make various material processing non toxic (in these days of green and organic, that's going to be a major hurdle that to the best of my limited knowledge has not been tackled yet, aside from citing PLA), and presenting the "WHY do you want this?" in a practical way, instead of using SYFY wishes for printed meat or spurious commentary about transporters and warp engines and "the future!" People, even technically minded people, have become increasingly numb to those approaches. The sound too much like cons.

And, the 900lbs gorilla no one likes to talk about...Undoing a carefully constructed "consumer" society is part of the problem too. The hobby industry, along with "real" manufacturing, was all but killed off in most of the west to profit a niche class of folks who saw a fat wallet waiting to be harvested, and media, complicit partner they were, has carefully acted as commissar to that end in "re-educating" society, so it will take time to rebirth the ideals that made us what we were once again.

I hope you take my comment for what they are. As I said, I've already invested what for me these days is a sizeable chunk of money into this, so I'm not here to spit on the project, but to discuss as adults (sorry, I had to say that, last two times I candidly mentioned anything "negative" I got flamed and insulted for my trouble, not something I expected in this forum, and not the kind of disrespect I'm used to dealing with as a veteran engineer)

I think that the two primary targets (aside from business customers like labs, job shops, etc) for the folks here who are trying to figure a business model should be
a) Crafting tools
b) Folks with home shops.

These two customers are, imo the ones that will boost the potential numbers significantly, and final designs should be tailored to that end, both in terms of price-point and the I.D. portion (form-factor, looks, ergonomics, how tos, extent of auto-tuning, etc.)

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/29/2012 02:54PM by xiando.
Re: How many RepRap's are 'out-there'
August 29, 2012 04:36PM
The fact that you can't easily count the number of RepRaps now shows the success of RepRap.

Before RepRap, the number of 3d printers worldwide could easily been counted because they were only produced by a handful of companies. Each of the Pre-RepRap 3d printer companies gladly boasted of the number of printers they produced.
Re: How many RepRap's are 'out-there'
August 29, 2012 06:11PM
I'm not sure you can count used microcontrollers, or RAMPS shields etc. but maybe active users starts to tell us something.

Do any of the moderators on this forum know how may registered users we have?

Interestingly Tuan TranPham from Objet, just sent me a graphic showing sales of sub $4000 printers to the 'home' market in 2011 - see below



So if that's how many were sold in 2011 and just look at the jump from 2010 to 2011, then 2012 should be very interesting.

And these are the units that have been 'sold'. 95% of RepRap's are in kit form or made from scratch, so I'm now even happier with at least 100k being already out-there.

I'm also quite amazed that Makerbot would have only sold 10k in 3.5 years, that does not seem like enough to keep them going at the rate they must be burning cash? new product development and thingiverse must cost a fair bit to keep going, their margin can't be 'that' high.


[richrap.blogspot.com]
Re: How many RepRap's are 'out-there'
August 29, 2012 08:07PM
@xiando: I saw that last guy bust your balls for your fair opinion. that guy is a dooche, and he's the stupid lazy h8r.eye popping smiley
at $500, you are doing really well, even if you're only half way-ish.

@rich: that chart did not show up for me. Can anyone else see it. maybe attach instead of embed??

I'd agree that the whole product category needs a more seamless integration from art to part. The people that are getting great results have poured on the hours, know the firmware, Arduino coding, G-coding, electronics, CAD modeling, host software, and how to play their instrument. It's not a free lunch and I think many people get into it without knowing what they're getting into. I have an Arduino book at the bedside. How sad is that.

I'd also agree that many are abandoned unfinished or raided for parts. I hope mine don't end up there.
I tend to half bake most of my inventions.

Dave
Re: How many RepRap's are 'out-there'
August 29, 2012 08:34PM
I can't see the chart either. I checked the web-element and it's showing a partial mail link. Methinks richrep accidentally posted something other than the image.

Thanks re:"the douche" winking smiley I had to bite my tongue for a little while on that one. the urge to flame back was almost overpowering.
Re: How many RepRap's are 'out-there'
August 30, 2012 01:05AM
Based on my calculations, there are three. Mine, yours, and the one that guy has that isn't working yet winking smiley
VDX
Re: How many RepRap's are 'out-there'
August 30, 2012 02:25AM
richrap Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Do any of the moderators on this forum know how
> may registered users we have?

... we have more than 15k registered users, but more than 6k weren't active/activated and maybe 1-2k of the active are bots ... so maybe 6-7k active users in the RepRap-forums ...


Viktor
--------
Aufruf zum Projekt "Müll-freie Meere" - [reprap.org] -- Deutsche Facebook-Gruppe - [www.facebook.com]

Call for the project "garbage-free seas" - [reprap.org]
Re: How many RepRap's are 'out-there'
August 30, 2012 04:34AM
I hope you can see it this time, I put it in a different place eye rolling smiley -



If not, it shows sales of about 5500 in 2010 and 23000 in 2011 - the graph looks exponential to me!

Thanks Viktor - That's less than I expected, but I guess not everyone needs to be a registered user to get a RepRap up and running.

And I think that more than any other group, most RepRap users are more likely to have more than one machine smiling bouncing smiley


[richrap.blogspot.com]
Re: How many RepRap's are 'out-there'
August 30, 2012 07:28AM
An alternative way of estimating numbers might be to look at software downloads of RepRap "specific" software out there eg Slic3r (many software downloaders keep a tally of total downloads). There will inevitably be some double counting with updated versions being downloaded but if you look at current version downloads that might also give you an idea of how many were still being used.
Re: How many RepRap's are 'out-there'
August 30, 2012 02:18PM
Considering that there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 million electrical engineers world wide (just one of many technical fields), the potential market is hardly saturated, even if twice the estimated number of units are "living in the wild".

When you think about it, the potential for growth just among engineers is staggering. Couple that with woodworkers, crafters, and of course, hobbyists... Whew!

Again though, "accuracy/precision/repeatability/etc, ease of use, price, and health are critical areas that will need to be addressed to realize any such ambitions for making the paradigm viable as a 'common' commodity.
Re: How many RepRap's are 'out-there'
August 30, 2012 02:34PM
Thingiverse stats are probably the best source of data.
I'd look at the number of unique downloaders (assuming they have that data), it'd probably be a significant percentage of that figure (say ~20-50%).
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