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3D revolution will be printed

3D printers have been around for almost a decade now. They are mostly used in the industrial settings to test a part before it is sent out for manufacturing. The current price of these machines, very often called rapid prototypers, is about $15-20k. That’s old news.

What is noteworthy is that a new crop of 3D printers are coming to market; the desktop 3D printers. The Desktop Factory (an Ideal Lab Company) will start selling its 3D printer for $4995 this year.

Fabjectory already makes the virtual life -real life crossover by making a 3D print of your virtual avatar from Nintendo Mii or from Second Life; and 3D Systems, a pioneer in the field with several hundred patents, will soon release a printer in the sub 10k range. It all points to the phase transition for the products.

It has been said that the successful products have three phases:

“what is it?” phase,
“how much is it” phase, and
“I can make it cheaper!” phase.

It seems to me that the the 3D printers are now officially crawled in to the “how much is it” phase!

Laser printers went through similar transition of being bulky and expensive to smaller, better, and cheaper phase of $99 pricing; the video recording went through the same phases of a unit costing $100,000 to $10,000 to $79 in the liquidation isle and now its time for 3D printers to do the same.

NY Times, quoted A. Michael Berman, chief technology officer for the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena:

The market for 3-D printing isn’t as big as for laser printers, but I do believe it is huge.

Yes, I do agree that the market for 3D printer is huge! Eventually, It might even be bigger than the laser printer market. I expect that in about five years, Brother will be making a 7 in 1 model of a multi function machine that copies, scans, faxes and prints in BW, Color and in 3D!

As a physicist, I don’t see any reason why in 3007, one might not have a printer that uses hydrogen as “ink” to “print” anything of any metal and any composition. But for now, I’ll just be happy with a small 3D printer that makes a copy of a gorgeous little singe flower vase that I just saw.

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May 7th, 2007 Posted by Sunny Kalara | Technology, Startup | 3 comments