I'd say it's in the spotlight. I've seen ads in my emails and most web sights here in the last week or so...it's everywhere. The Mojo. My friend who sells bulk pc stuff even had some ink the other day. he didn't even know what it was until I told him about it!
I think part of what is happening is that people are finally understanding the concept of 3D printing, thus are able to see all the different possibilities for applications, from early concepting to full production prototypes. Just a few years back, the costs for this technology were so high, it was really relegated to specific pockets in an organization and it didn't have much exposure beyond that small cadre of users. Also, without actually seeing the technology at work, it's really hard to conceptualize how you print a physical object. I agree with you, Rich, once you see the possibilities, it's pretty amazing.
Hey Rich. I believe it. I read they print in .007" layers. I am not sure what that adds up to in total tolerances, but being an ex-machinist I do know that a lot of "common" parts were +-0.010"...so that's 0.020" range. If they can hold that...very cool!
Beth, yes the cost is coming down. Our school district bought one for our STEM program. I think it cost about $30K. What is interesting is that one of the student projects this year is a 3D printer. Yes, the students made one of their own. It is intersting to see how it works.
Developments in materials have made a big difference in driving forward the 3D trend, as we've covered at DN: http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=237571 http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=236261 I don't think it's going to remain on the sidelines much longer, although I'm not how long cloning kittens will take...
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.