3D printing goes mainstream at CES 2014

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Design Product News – In the CES 2014 3D Printing TechZone, scores of established and start-up 3D printer and scanner manufacturers clamoured for attention. With the explosive growth of 3D printing at CES 2014 it is clear the technology is evolving beyond its engineering roots. While continuing to deliver high-end 3D printers for prototyping and parts-on-demand applications, the established players are poised to vie for dominance in the consumer arena. Meanwhile, crowd-funded entrepreneurs and start-ups are bringing innovative products to a market eager for inexpensive 3D printing and scanning solutions. Once relegated to the fringes of CES, 3D printing has entered the consumer electronics mainstream in a big way.

While DPN magazine only had space for an abridged version of the article, you can read the full version below.

3D printing goes mainstream at CES 2014
by Zac Bolan

LAS VEGAS –The 3D Printing TechZone at 2014 International CES hosted 28 exhibitors demonstrating the latest in 3D printing technologies to rapt crowds. While major players 3D Systems (www.3dsystems.com) and Stratasys (www.stratasys.com) occupied prime real estate in the TechZone, a number of smaller manufacturers and crowd-funded start-ups attracted significant attention with innovative printing and scanning solutions.

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3D Systems CEO Avi Reichental introducing musician will.i.am (Black Eyed Peas) as the company’s new Chief Creative Officer.

3D Systems

3D Systems (www.3dsystems.com) introduced a dozen new products at 2014 CES aimed at both niche markets as well as the rapidly emerging consumer 3D printing market. The CeraJet ceramic 3D printer produces pottery that is ready to glaze and fire, adding a new dimension to an artisan process, while the novel ChefJet sugar and chocolate 3D printer produces edible candies and decorations. The printers will be available in both monochrome and full colour versions in the second half of 2014.

The new Cube 3 personal printer by 3D Systems offers dual-colour printing in a compact design.

The new Cube 3 personal printer by 3D Systems offers dual-colour printing in a compact design.

Additionally 3D Systems introduced their 3rd generation Cube 3D printer featuring faster print speeds, dual colour printing and 75-micron resolution. Targeting education and hobbyists the new Cube will be priced sub-$1,000 when released later this year. The CubePro was also announced featuring up to 3 print heads and a controlled environment print chamber to ensure high fidelity results.

The CubeJet desktop 3D printer was also a major draw as it produced full-colour high-resolution models at the show. Designed for small business and the independent entrepreneurs, the CubeJet will be priced under $5,000 when released in Q3.

In a press conference held at the 3D Systems booth, CEO Avi Reichental introduced musician will.i.am (Black Eyed Peas) as the company’s new Chief Creative Officer. With this announcement and their wide range of aggressively priced printers 3D Systems appears on the verge of making substantial inroads into the consumer 3D printing market.

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Makerbot CEO Bre Petis unveiling their latest 3D printers at the Makerbot CES 2014 press conference.

Stratasys / Makerbot

Stratasys Objet 260 producing complex models in the 3D Printing TechZone.

Stratasys Objet 260 producing complex models in the 3D Printing TechZone.

While Stratasys (www.stratasys.com) had a presence in the TechZone they made no major product announcements at CES, instead showcasing existing hardware from their Objet line of prototyping 3D printers. Meanwhile in an adjacent booth Stratasys subsidiary MakerBot (www.makerbot.com) demonstrated their latest printers.

During the Makerbot press conference company founder and CEO Bre Pettis unveiled the latest additions to their popular Replicator line of desktop 3D printers. The MakerBot Replicator Mini promises fast setup and one touch printing of 200-micron models for the hobbyist and education markets. The new fifth generation Replicator features 100-micron resolution with a 456 in3 build volume. The printer offers a number of convenience features such as a smart extruder that pauses printing and notifies the user when filament is running low and an onboard camera the lets users monitor build progress remotely from a smartphone app.

The new Replicator Z18 features a 2,592 in3 build volume enabling users to image massive complex models and prototypes in a single piece. All three printers are expected to ship in Q2, 2014.

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These detailed models are printed in colour using the Mcor True Colour 3D printer. Instead of using extruded plastic, Mcor models are cut from a ream of standard office copier paper.

Mcor Technologies

Mcor Technologies (www.mcortechnologies) demonstrated their Iris True Colour 3D printer in the TechZone, producing full colour, high-resolution models.

“These models are made from regular office paper,” revealed Mcor’s Julie Reece, “and are between 7 and 30 times cheaper to produce with paper than with plastic filament or resin.”

Using Selective Deposition Lamination technology, Mcor 3D printers cut each layer from a sheet of paper, apply ink to the edges then bind the layers into the finished shape with a water-based adhesive. The resulting full-colour model is both cost-effective and ecofriendly as it can be built from used office paper and is fully recyclable.

Mcor has partnered with Staples in the Netherlands to introduce “myeasy3D”, an online 3D printing service for the general public.

Matterform co-founder Drew Cox showing their innovative and affordable 3D scanner.

Matterform co-founder Drew Cox showing their innovative and affordable 3D scanner.

Matterform

Toronto-based designers Adam Brandejs and Drew Cox desperately needed an affordable, high-quality 3D scanning solution–something that simply didn’t exist in the world of $3,000-$20,000 scanners. But that didn’t stop Adam and Drew. Armed with a background in programming and a do-it-yourself attitude, they decided to create Matterform (www.matterform.net) and invent their own.

“They went to the dollar store, bought duct tape and a laser pointer and literally built their own 3D scanner,” revealed Matterform’s Susan McLennan. “It worked beautifully, and they realized that if they needed a scanner, other designers would need one as well.”

The entrepreneurial pair took their concept to crowd-funding site Indegogo (www.indegogo.com) hoping to raise $81,000 for a limited production run. Instead backers enthusiastically pledged more than $470,000 to make this product a reality.

Looking more like a portable record player than a 3D scanner, the easy-to-use Matterform produces high-resolution colour scans in minutes that rival much more complicated and expensive scanners. Priced at $579 USD, the Matterform is currently available for pre-order with product shipping in February.

The Robo3D printer

The Robo3D printer was funded through Kickstarter and is shipping now.

Robo 3D

A little over a year ago Braydon Moreno and his friends set out to buy a 3D printer. Dismayed at their prohibitively expensive options, they decided to join forces and build their own as Robo 3D (www.robo3dprinter.com).

“We talked to actual 3D printer owners to find out what they wanted, then crafted our best value machine,” Moreno explained. “We wanted to build a less expensive machine that doesn’t sacrifice quality.”

“The next important thing is to be able to print big objects,” Moreno continued. “Our build platform is 10x9x8, almost double the industry average for printers of this class.”

After their wildly successful Kickstarter campaign raised more than 10x their $49,000 goal, Robo 3D delivered over 1,000 units during 2013. Their current printers start at $599 USD and will be shipping in February 2014.

With the explosive growth of 3D printing at CES 2014 it is clear the technology is evolving beyond its engineering roots. While continuing to deliver high-end 3D printers for prototyping and parts-on-demand applications, both 3D Systems and Stratasys are poised to vie for dominance in the consumer arena. Meanwhile, crowd-funded entrepreneurs and startups are bringing innovative products to a market eager for inexpensive 3D printing and scanning solutions. Once relegated to the fringes of CES, 3D printing has entered the consumer electronics mainstream in a big way.

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