I’m at SolidWorks World 2013 this week (Orlando in the winter? Not a bad place to be), and the number of folks showing advancements in the 3D printing space came as a surprise to me. Two particular vendors I spent some time with were Mcor and Up 3D USA.
Mcor’s claim to fame is that they actually do the printing on plain old printer paper. It gets combined with some kind of adhesive and stacked together to produce a real model. They’ve perfected the software such that they can produce something that’s quite accurate.
Called the Iris, aptly named after the goddess of the rainbow, the system can print in more than one million hues simultaneously as it creates physical objects from 3D data. One of the important features of the Mcor solution is its cost -- not the cost of the printer, but the material. Basically, all you’re paying for (besides the printer) is paper, ink, and glue. The only limiting factor is the size of the paper, which is either letter size or A4.
One ideal model for a solution like this one is where you just pay for the output. Hence, Mcor struck a deal with Staples, whereby you send Staples your model data, and they will print it for you on an Mcor printer. Called Staples Easy 3D, it’s available today in parts of Europe, with the US expected to come on line shortly.
Up 3D USA caught my attention because of its price point -- $899. Yup, you can have one of these systems in your home office (or your home for personal use). It pulls the material from a spool, which looks like wire. Printing also takes a few hours, depending on the size and density of your model. But who would have thought you could do this for under $1,000?
I suppose this kind of price reduction was inevitable. We're beginning to reach the point where consumers will want one for the home. The challenge will be finding around-the-house applications for home users. I remember when PCs first came out and proponents of the technology said you could use your PC to store recipes. It seems people have found other, better applications since then. The same could happen for 3D printers.
I thought the Staples news was a big deal, and I looked forward to using their services in the distant future. Now knowing the price of the printer, I say why wait! A fair price for something that creates amazing work. Though, I do question the strength and usefulness of the paper enamel parts.
Pretty amazing price point. I looked at the website and saw some impressive models being showcased.
Very innovative marketing channel through Staples (sort of like printing your photos out at the store). Look forward to seeing this 3D technology continue to be used by more and more of the mainstream population.
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.