3D Printers will have a “Mac moment”
The MakerBot Replicator Mini, unveiled at January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, could do for 3-D printing what the original Apple Macintosh did for home computing in 1984. It could, in other words, take a product used up until now mostly by serious professionals or committed hobbyists and make it mainstream.
The Mini, slightly larger than a countertop bread maker, will be available to consumers this spring for a still pricy but no longer prohibitive US$1,375. More important, it will come with most of the same internal technology as the latest full-sized Replicators, which means the first true wave of casual 3-D printing fans won’t be stuck with inferior gear.
3-d printers will get their first true app store
Owning a 3-D printer isn’t much fun if you don’t have anything to make with it. That’s why MakerBot is opening a digital store with low-cost, professionally designed 3-D schematics for, at the moment, mostly toys, including rocket ships, dragons and trucks. That means the family that buys a Replicator Mini this spring could be printing its Christmas presents by next winter.
You’ll eat a 3-d printed wedding cake
3D Systems unveiled its new ChefJet series, also at CES, in January. The larger model, the ChefJet Pro 3D, will allow professional chefs—at nearly US$10,000, this isn’t a machine for the home kitchen—to print elaborate, edible sugar creations in full colour. For now, that probably means cooler, more durable and intricate wedding cakes—for those with a lot of money to burn.