In my humble opinion, I don't see the big printer companies making a big play into 3D printing right now. Even though 3D printing is hitting the general public, it is still a very small niche market compared to the huge volumes that these companies like to sell. Also, traditional laser, inkjet and thermal printing technology is very mature at this point and hasn't evolved much over the past several years (whereas 3D printing technology still is evolving). At this point, addititive printing technology doesn't fit their traditional, high-volume market strategies.
TJ, I haven't heard a whisper of anything coming into 3D printing from traditional printer makers. It's a very different set of technologies and materials. OTOH, you'd think at least one of them would be trying something and if they are, they're probably good at keeping it under wraps.
I'm looking forward to the future, but I suppose that I need to learn some 3D drafting skills!
I remember seeing my first 3D printer in college around 1990-1991. Our plastics engineering department (one of the best in the country) had a massive machine that used a laser to fuse layer by layer of some clear liquid, and the platter lowered as each layer was made. They had it located in a shop by a window, and you could watch the thing work and it was so fascinating.
They also said that the liquid used was dangerous to touch, so you had to make sure that the parts were washed before touching them. They told us that the liquid had some odd property that it wouldn't irritate you the first time that you touched it, but that your next exposure would cause skin irritation. I thought that was odd, but I didn't try touching the liquid!
Al, there's so much going on in this industry that I'm covering some of it all in one blog, like this one. I agree, the interaction among providers, users and technologies will jumpstart this set of technologies and push it into the next generation.
Thanks, Rob. I find much of this amazing myself, so I'm happy to share. 3D printing actually began back in 1988/1989 for prototypes, not long after PCs became ubiquitous and only a few years after the first Mac. I think it's also important to remember that there's more than one technology used in 3D printing and that there are even others under the wider umbrella of additive manufacturing (AM). They have somewhat different histories and evolutionary paths. That said, the technology overall has certainly been experiencing a period of intense growth and change in just the last year as many techniques and ideas and applications all come together.
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.