I read this article about a 3D printer that was recently unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show and couldn’t help but get a bit excited. Sure, as the article points out, at $1300, this “affordable” printer may not be affordable for everyone. (It’s not for me.) But it’s getting closer to affordable.
The notion of being able to create or download a 3D image file on my computer, send it to the printer via a USB cable, and have the real object in my hand a few minutes (or a couple of hours) later is pretty amazing — and I’m not even in a business that does any rapid prototyping, nor do I have a burning need for my own custom designed neon ABS plastic chess set, two of the most often cited uses for such a device.
The best part will be watching the prices come down on these. They are a bit expensive now, but in five years, I could see myself forking over $500 for something like this. Especially if the media that is “printed” comes down in price as well.
I’m sure, in addition to being a fun, novel tool with which to experiment, I could find more and more uses for it once I had one. Kids break one part of their favorite toy? Make another! This gadget were exactly the same but with a built-in loop for hanging it from a hook? No problem! Like something I have? I’ll scan it and email it to you and you can print one for yourself (almost) instantly! It’s a pretty exciting future.