I recently finished my master thesis on a new method for metal 3D printing. To get funding to further investigate the capabilities of this system, I need to show a market case, i.e. people who would buy a printer built with this method. There is very little market research on FabLabs or the maker community in general. I ask for your experience and help to estimate (= guessing, but with a serious face) weather selling to FabLabs is a good idea.
Some details on my printer: It will have a precision comparable to today’s FDM plastic-printers, a build size in the ballpark of .6 x .6 x .6 m, require a well ventilated room or dedicated exhaust (similar to a lasercutter) and will be able to print a wide range of metals and alloys. (definitely steel, probably aluminum, possibly copper)
Metal has to be provided as powder, so cleaning and filling the printer may get very dirty.
Projected price of a printer would be 10 000 €, with options to lease printers.
Based on your experience, how many FabLabs (in percent) can and want to afford that? Are there maybe labs already owning metal printers?
Additionally, is there a must-have feature you wouldn’t want to miss in a metal printer?
Thank you for your help!