3D Printing Moves Toward Retail

At CES, Ultra HD generated a lot of hype, but perhaps the most exciting new product category for 2014 will be 3D printers. Tongues were wagging in the sold-out 3D Printing Zone as these amazing devices created objects that were previously just figments of the user’s imagination.

Although we’ve already seen some 3D printers at some retailers, the category could explode this year as the cost of entry declines. Several 3D printer manufacturers at CES were not only showing industrial prosumer gear, but also machines meant for the average consumer.

Makerbot, a warm-and-fuzzy company that has a chance to be the Apple of 3D printing, unveiled its MakerBot Replicator mini compact 3D printer, which it says is an easy-to-use device made “for everyone.” It envisions the one-touch printer in dorm rooms, classrooms, workspaces and homes. Replicator Mini offers downloads of free, ready-to-print material from MakerBot’s thriving 3D design community, Thingiverse.com. The “expected retail price,” when the product ships in the spring, is $1,375.

3D Systems introduced what it claimed was “the first sub-$1,000 plug & play 3D printer for everyday use” – its third-generation Cube. The product is slated for release in the second quarter.
XYZ Printing, which proclaims that it is “dedicated to bringing cost-effective 3D printing to the world,” would beg to differ, however. It upped (or rather, lowered) the pricing ante at with its own $499 “plug and play” da Vinci 1.0 3D printer, which it also claimed is the safest 3D printer on the consumer market. It will ship in March.
Other consumer-priced printers on display included Solidoodle’s $499 unit, Pirate3D’s Buccaneer ($479; shipping in May), and Robo3D’s $599 and $699 models. n

Joe Paone is director of content for CTPG. jpaone@napco.com
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