I like Desktop Engineering magazine because it covers the rapid prototyping and 3-D printing business. Printing in 3-D is every bit as magical as it sounds: you tell the machine what you want to make, and it comes out as a brand new three-dimensional solid object.
It sounds like some kind of Forbidden Planet science fiction, but there are still some significant limitations. For instance, you print using a single material (typically plastic or metal), so there’s no possibility of xeroxing your iPod. And whatever you print can be no larger than the print volume of the machine, which rules out printing yourself a new house. And until recently, the price was prohibitive. At just less than $40,000, ZCorp’s ZPrinter 450 was a relatively cheap new entrant. Nifty, but not the kind of thing to drop your spare change on.
But now along comes the Desktop Factory. They claim to be able to sell you a 3-D printer for $5000. That’s not lunch money, but it’s astonishingly cheap. The quality is predictably low, but it’s amazing the thing works at all at that price point. This is the laser printer of our age. What happens when it becomes easy and cheap to print novel 3-D objects?
Good stuff. I bet.