January 6, 2015
This week in Las Vegas, the International Consumer Electronics Show debuted a space dedicated uniquely to 3D printing. In the last few years, 3D printing is taking over the country with hobbyist and makers gathering in various MakerFaire and Meetups to exchange ideas. So the creation of a marketplace for 3D printing at CES 2015 cements this as its own industry for consumers. People can even take 3D printers home and create prototypes to larger ideas. But what about taking a 3D printer with you everywhere?
Yesterday at CES the popular European 3D printing company Ultimaker unveiled two new desktop models, one mini 3D printer built to fit anywhere and one to travel easily.
The Ultimaker 2 Go runs at $1450, which is quite a bit more than the MakerBot Mini, the most well-known baby 3D printer on the market. The idea of taking a 3D that fits and goes with you anywhere is a step towards 3D printing industry’s adaptability. And also it means the beginning of economic opportunities.
“I think that it’s the opportunity to put tomorrow’s technology in the hands of youngsters that will create endless abundance of job opportunities, and with that, everybody can become an expert maker and an expert manufacturer. That will take new tools. Not everybody knows how to use CAD, so we’re developing haptics, perceptual devices that will allow you to touch and feel your designs as if you play with digital clay. When you do things like that, and we also developed things that take physical photographs that are instantly printable, it will make it easier to create content, but with all of the unimagined, we will also have the unintended, like democratized counterfeiting and ubiquitous illegal possession,” said Avi Reichental of 3D System during TED Talk last year.
3D Systems also debuted at CES their CocoJetTM, a chocolate 3D printer developed in collaboration with The Hershey Company. Ideal for the baker or chocolatier, the CocoJet prints custom designs in dark, milk or white chocolate.
So the question is not how 3D printing will change the manufacturing industry, but rather where will you have your 3D printer in your house and for what purpose?
Take another 3D product launched at CES this year, Dutch engineer Anouk Wipprecht’s “Spiderdress.” It’s a dress you would see on a villain in some Marvel movie, but even cooler because it has been 3D printed. The clothing integrates robotics and sensors to give the wearer capabilities she wouldn’t have otherwise. In this case, the Spiderdress is a self-defense aid that applies two kinds of sensors.
The idea of creating garments that responds to the human body using a 3D printer is another example of manufacturing something that is personalized to a need. Whilst most 3D printers are currently used for prototyping and in pre-production mould making processes, the use of 3D printing to manufacture end-use parts is now a reality.
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