There actually aren't a ton of companies sitting at the high end. As I understand it, you've got a handle on two of the biggest companies in this space, with Stratasys and ZCorp being two others should keep your eye on.
There certainly is a ton of activity on the low end space however, and that's where it could get really exciting. People would have pooh-poohed the idea of an apps store or small machine that could hold your entire music and video library just a short decade ago. If any of the companies can get it right from a technology, price point, and market need scenario, the 3D printing market feels like it has that kind of break-out potential--IMHO, of course!
Wow, Beth, you certainly do know of many different 3D printers -- I didn’t realize there were so many available. I’ve been designing and prototyping with SLAs since 3D-Systems, Inc. came out with the first commercial Stereo Lithography Apparatus in the late 80’s. They’ve continually improved the polymers to improve against fragile parts (anyone ever have an over-excited manager break their first SLA prototype-?) and also improved to finer layer resolution until the day Objet was introduced and took the market lead in 3D prototyping.Objet is superior in layer resolution (down to half-a-thousandth, .0005”) and superior in strength of the prototype, but costs a bit more per unit-volume compared to the SLAs. I’ve made literally hundreds and hundreds of designs. But that’s where my experience stops, at 3D-SLA and Objet. I had no idea the growing low-end market rising up in this arena; it will definitely put a printer on very desk! Very exciting to imagine.
That's a great question re: the recyclability of materials. Not sure Origo is that far along, but it definitely gives them something to think about.
I agree that the price point on this is still high. Even at $500, it (meaning the prototype) still looks almost too "toylike" to justify that big pricetag. But it's all about progress and if they can get this thing to market, I think it could have a major impact on keeping kids engaged beyond the dreaded video games.
Just wondering.... I don't think I've ever seen this addressed in the articles on 3D printers. Is the "raw material" readily recyclable internally? I'm thinking if you give this to some 10 year olds, they can make something and then melt it down, grind it up, whatever, and make something else without the parents needing to buy stock in the raw material company. Something like Play-Dough for the iPad generation.
It's exciting to see so much innovation happening in the low end, DIY 3D printer market. I'll anxiously await seeing a Origo printer in action.
Meanwhile, the most common printer in this space continues to be MakerBot Industries Thing-O-Matic and the open source software that support it. Add that with Thingiverse for available models and projects and you already have something that 10 year olds can use TODAY?
Here's the proof: @DocProfSky has been doing 3D printing since he was 10!
The combination of affordable 3D printers and easy to use CAD design software has great potential. It would be great to engage young creative minds, watching them learn and grow, figuring out how things work, etc. And bringing their kids back to focus on something in the physical world would be welcome by many parents.
However, the price point for this device (not to mention the consumables) places this out of reach of many families. And the 10-year old target audience seems kind of low, given the relatively short attention span...
It would be suitable for groups and schools though.
I like the fact that it takes something that will be a little more applicable than a video game and engages kids at a time in their life when something like this can be seen as cool. It's a little expensive now, but I can see high schools being able to afford something like this as opposed to be able to afford a full fledged high priced professional set-up.
Thanks for this, Beth! My 15 year-old has been through several phases of Lego, Roller Coaster Tycoon, World of Warcraft, and now Minecraft. Planing for a major in Electro-Mechanical Engineering, I can easily visualize the crates of components, vehicles, weapons, action figures, dragons and arachnids that would fill our house had this been available a few years ago.
I'm wondering if the manufacturer's comparison of their product to an XBox360 is an intentional one. Creating a collaborative design system that allows gamers to share designs over the XBox Live network would be a boon to Science and Engineering education alike.
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