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?