A 3D printing trend playing out at the Consumer Electronics Show bodes a future in which shoes, eyeglass frames, toys and more are printed at home as easily as documents.
Music star will.i.am even made a debut here as creative officer for 3D Systems, predicting that the technology will do for many basic items what iTunes did to the way people get songs.
He predicted that within a decade, 3D printers will be common in homes and people will print out things like shoes, belts, eyeglasses and accessories instead of dashing to a shop to buy the items. “3D printers will be in your house like refrigerators, TVs and microwaves,” will.i.am said.
3D printing has been around for about 25 years but has seen a surge in popularity as the technology improves and costs drop to a point accessible for hobbyists, artists and entrepreneurs. Printers aimed at the home market typically use corn-based, biodegradable plastic layered and shaped using lasers and heated plates.
“Think of it as laying microscopic bricks; layers and layers of these bricks,” said Roger Chang, chief executive of Singapore-based Pirate 3D, which makes a Buccaneer home printer that sells for $497. “Eventually, if you put enough bricks you get a building.”
“We feel like this is the year of 3D printing,” MakerBot spokeswoman Jenifer Howard told AFP. … (Read more)