Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Trends of 2013: Is 3D Printing Finally Set to Take Off?

One of the technologies that have been bubbling just under the surface of consumer acceptance is 3D printing.  The magical abilities and sheer wonder of the process of turning a computer image and turning it into a solid object before our eyes may be dazzling, but they might also be off-putting.  Every year the amaze-factor of 3D printers and what they are capable of grows, and maybe that is what puts hesitation into our minds about adopting the nascent technology.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:

Excerpt: "At the beginning of the year, I took an angst-ridden test drive of a Solidoodle 3-D printer. Since that clunky ride, the aptly termed "disruptive technology" has extruded a slew of firsts: bionic organs, electronics, stem cells, plastic and metal guns, bonbons, prosthetics (including eyeballs) and two Lady Gaga dresses.

The new rule: Imagine and design anything, then extrude it through fevered nozzles that layer material into three-dimensional shapes.

Those who believe the hype are betting that all savvy consumers will own 3-D printers within 10 years. Here are trends that may turn that prediction into reality:

Plug-and-play design. 3D Systems' $1,300 Cube is billed as the first "home-certified" 3-D printer on the market. With a kid-centric design, it resembles an urbane Play-Doh machine. Expect similar family-friendly models, higher print resolution and speed, lower prices and full-spectrum color as crucial design patents expire.

App world. Software and apps will largely create and drive the desire for printers. Gesture-based 3-D modeling (like molding clay on screens) is gaining traction. Look for smartphone scanner apps that translate images to 3-D objects within the year.

Complementary products. Attendant technology will spur the perceived need to possess a 3-D printer. Already, hand-held $400 scanners enable printing of full-body selfies that make generic wedding cake toppers look like 99 Cents Only Store grabs. MakerBot's futuristic Digitizer ($950) scans smaller objects for print replication. The $100 3Doodler pen allows users to scribble objects in the air.

Marketing rush. Increasingly, major brands will push interactive 3-D tie-ins to products. Why merely view a film? Marketers bet you'll want to print out the props. Microsoft and Warner Bros. UK recently partnered, offering J.R.R. Tolkien fans 3-D printable blueprints for the mystical Key to Erebor, featured in the "Hobbit" movies. McDonald's, make your move."

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