Thursday, September 27, 2012

Getting there faster than expected...

Are we there yet? Really!

Old news: Last week MakerBot announced their new Replicator 2 desktop 3D printer. It is 37% bigger and more accurate—100 micron layers.

This week Formlabs announced Form 1, an even higher resolution desktop 3D printer—25 micron layers. Funded by Kickstarter!

As I mentioned last week, we have been watching 3D printing technology evolve for the last 20 years. Every year week there are major advances, but until now the technology hadn't quite gotten there. That is to say, when will 3D desktop printing start doing for product design what 2D desktop printing does for graphics design?

Have we arrived? Our check list:
  • Cost
    • Purchase price under $3,000: Yes.
    • Supplies: Close enough.
  • Accuracy: Good enough for most applications Yes.
  • Speed: Maybe.
  • Durability: Too early to tell, but that is no reason to wait.
  • Ease of use: A software problem? If it is not easy enough for most Rhino users, it could be our fault.
So the answer is: Yes, and faster than we ever expected!

If you don't have a 3D printer yet, buy one in the coming year, and expect to replace it in two years six months or less with something even more amazing.

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