Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Three Dimensional Printing At Home

There's a growing shift towards more technically advanced hardware in the household. One of these changes is the movement away from inkjet printing. No, inkjet printing and even laser printing isn't going to disappear from the residential marketplace anytime soon, but consumers are demanding something else to use within their homes. That very demand is having access to three dimensional printers.

For so long, consumers who have demanded the scale recreations that only this sort of printing can provide have been limited in their options. While the idea of this has been made more mainstream over the past few years, it's still not enough for many: namely, those who want to do it within their own homes. Fortunately, this is becoming a reality now as more manufacturers are releasing the technology into space-friendly designs.

One of these is the Cube printer. This peripheral was manufactured by 3D Systems and is tentatively set to become one of the leading three dimensional printers on the market today. What it does is take the power of a commercial or industrial sized printer, then scales it into a more home-friendly design. It goes without saying that many of these printers are simply beyond the means of many households in terms of size and the sheer weight of the device makes positioning it within the home very difficult. This isn't a concern any longer though. The Cube rivals many inkjet printers in terms of its size, so is appropriately dimensioned for the typical tabletop setting that printers tend to find themselves.

Does this mean the Cube is the only option out there? Not by a long shot. MakerBot is also paving the way for at-home three dimensional printing. Since its launch in 2009, MakerBot has become synonymous with this application and is readily perceived as the best 3D printer in its class. This is simply because of its market saturation at one of the most well-picked times; although its product launch could have simply been due to excellent timing on behalf of its manufacturer, Stratasys. 

So, what does using a 3D printer at home actually entail? Well, for the majority of household users, it's nothing more than downloading existing 3D models and sending the job to the printer; then watching as their creation comes to life right before their very eyes. More often than not, this simplistic approach is because of the complexity of the actual modelling process. Unless users have some technical know-how, it tends to be beyond the means of many household users and few have taken the time to learn what's involved. Those who have, though, are reaping the rewards of their dedication. Three dimensional printing is a relatively untapped market, so those who develop models for the community are in a great position to sell them on and earn themselves a livelihood because of it. 

It will be interesting to see where this progresses as time goes on. One thing's for sure, though, and that's this sort of use is here to stay. 

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