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End of year wrap-up: 10 trends we noticed in 2018 (3D printing and VR/AR)

It’s that time of the year: the holiday season is well underway and year recap blog posts are flourishing on our newsfeeds! We also decided to join in the fun.

In 2018 at Aniwaa, we spent a lot of time refreshing and updating our databases and debating the latest trends on emerging tech. For this year’s recap, we’ve looked at what happened in the industries we cover and listed some of the key trends we identified throughout the year.

3D printing: cheaper, better, stronger

Overall, for various reasons, complex and expensive 3D printing technologies have trickled down to entry-level and mid-range products.

  • Resin 3D printers are booming! This segment was once dominated by expensive professional or industrial-grade machines, making resin-based 3D printing hardly accessible to the masses. This is no longer the case, with several Chinese manufacturers offering cheap and functional resin 3D printers (here’s our selection of the best resin 3D printers under $650).
  • Low-cost 3D printers are now really good. For less than $300, it’s now possible to get a very decent FFF/FDM 3D printer, fully assembled and capable of delivering stunning prints (after some fine-tuning of course!).
  • Most consumer brands have repositioned on the pro segment. It is now widely accepted that there will be no such thing as mainstream 3D printing or a 3D printer in every home. The main manufacturers, from Ultimaker to Zortrax or Makerbot have understood that; they are now focusing primarily on the professional segment, like many other brands.
  • From factory floor to desktop: advanced 3D printing technologies are being condensed into more compact and cost-effective 3D printers, giving SMEs and professionals access to high-quality 3D printing and prototyping at their desktops (i.e. desktop SLS 3D printers).
  • Bring on the color: most full-color 3D prints used to be fragile and expensive to produce using industrial-grade 3D printers. Today, there are a few desktop 3D printers capable of achieving truly stunning results, and prices are being brought down (see our list here).

On our watchlist for 2019

  • Low-cost powder 3D printers (laser sintering)
  • Cost-effective metal 3D printing for small-batch production series
  • Affordable PEEK 3D printers (a tricky feat due to high-temperature requirements, but not impossible!)

VR/AR/MR: a bright (and untethered) future

  • Consumer VR is not happening… yet. But the massive sales of the Oculus Go show that there’s a strong demand and curiosity among the mass market.
  • The future of VR is untethered. Users want standalone VR headsets, not cumbersome and expensive PC VR setups. Sales trends reflect that.
  • Professional VR/AR is there to stay. More and more big corporations are tapping into VR and AR to train their staff or improve their operations/processes. The enterprise market is already happening.
  • MR is still in its infancy. The release of the Magic Leap One was the first major milestone for mixed reality. But it received, well, mixed feedback (sorry for the pun). Although MR is very promising, as of now it’s still very much in R&D stage.
  • VR immersion is getting better. FOV are widening and resolutions are increasing, making the immersive experience even more enjoyable and real… 6DOF is also becoming more standard.

On our XR watchlist for 2019

  • The Oculus Quest launch, scheduled for April.
  • AR glasses for the masses? Augmented reality glasses seem poised to become the next big thing in wearable tech. With startup such as North Focals and tech giants from Apple to Google working on AR glasses, the coming year will be interesting and probably mark a new chapter for consumer AR.

2018 at Aniwaa: fundraising, new site and more emerging tech

As for Aniwaa, 2018 was a big year too: after 4 years of operations, we closed our first fundraising round to accelerate our development and cover more emerging technologies. We also released a brand new website in July, and a new VR/AR vertical. And it’s just the beginning: watch this space for some new fun early in 2019… 🙂

Until then, enjoy the holidays and thanks for your support!