The technology used in 3D printers may be nearing an "inkjet moment" that will see it become more accessible and useful to everyday users.

This is the claim of Brad Moon, writing for InvestorPlace, who likened the current situation to the early days of ink cartridge-based machines.

He observed there is a degree of uncertainty from customers at the moment as to what practical applications 3D printers might be used for, but this is a reaction that has been seen in the industry before.

"When inkjet printers were first available for home use, people weren't sure what to make of those either," Mr Moon noted, adding people had asked questions in the early 90s such as: "Who really needs the ability to print with such high resolution and in colour?"

However, he noted sales of the devices took off when digital camera became mainstream and people found they were able to produce near lab-quality photos at home.

This is a scenario that may be repeated with 3D machines in the near future, as innovators come up with new uses for the machines that may be highly valuable to home users.

One such application may be the making of replacement parts at home for items that may otherwise be difficult to source spares for, such as appliances that are no longer in production.

Mr Moon added it is easy to see parallels between 3D printing today and early inkjet technology and predicted that if the designs become mainstream, manufacturers such as HP, Canon and Epson will be forced to improve their own offerings in the area.

Meanwhile, it was also stated by Olaf Diegel, professor of mechatronics at Massey University in New Zealand that the technology has "come of age".

He explained to the New Zealand Herald how the process makes possible design that would not be able to be created using traditional manufacturing methods.

"For example, 3D printing would let you build an acoustic guitar with an individual tuneable acoustic chamber for each string," the expert said.