The 3D Printer Revolution Starts Sometime Around Now

printer and sketch

Maybe you’ve heard of rapid prototyping machines. Maybe you’ve even seen the new Discovery Channel show called Prototype This!, which makes extensive use of a 3d printer. But is it something commercially accessible to the industrial designer who wants to test out designs at home? Hardly. Look at Discovery’s writeup:

A 3-D printer: Ignore the $45,000-$73,000 price tag and ponder the possibilities. You could use this machine to print relief maps of the ocean floor, prototype products for pitch meetings, model human hearts for research or create architectural models to give construction workers a better visual picture of the design plans. And the best part — it’s all in color.

printer and parts

Amazing stuff, surely, but not everyone has between 45-73k to drop on one. Generally, you need access to a studio or university campus that’s got one on-site and will let you use it. But Desktop Factory is looking to change the entire game with their 125ci 3D Printer.

How are they going to do it? Mainly with the pricetag: $4,995 USD. It weighs less than 40 kilos and sits on a desk. It’s not small, but come on–a prototyping machine you can use in your house, your office, even? This is a pretty giant leap.

Desktop Factory is comparing the size of the machine to “early laser printers”, and Ponoko Blog made the same comparison recently:

When the The Apple LaserWriter first hit the mass market in 1985, the desktop publishing revolution was born. With a starting price of $6995 the unit weighed a hefty 77 lb (35kg) and was 11.5 x 18.5 x 16.2 inches the first desktop printer was not the lightweight, disposable peripheral printers have become today, in every classroom, business and home.

One of the most important segments of this new market is made up of those branding agencies who are getting into product design directly. This crossover was explored in a great article published last month on core77. It’s essential reading for anyone curious about some of the future directions in branding and advertising.

desk info

Let’s say you’re a graphic designer. Sooner than you expect, you’re probably going to be finalizing some part of a new campaign in Illustrator, printing out proofs and all the other things you do, while the designer at the desk next to you will have SolidWorks open and an entry-level 3D Printer on his desk, pumping out prototypes of that very product you’re busy advertising. Something very different is just beginning.

In related news, check out this “10 Things 3D Printers Can Do Now” from Wired.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. General Fabb Says:

    If you’re interested in following the news on 3D Printing and digital fabrication, you might consider reading our blog at Fabbaloo or http://fabbaloo.com. We recently posted a two-part interview with Desktop Factory CEO Cathy Lewis right here: http://www.fabbaloo.com/2008/07/desktop-factory-ceo-cathy-lewis-part-1.html

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