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 3-D printer. It is 37% bigger and more accurate—100 micron layers.

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

As I mentioned last week, we have been watching 3-D 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 3-D desktop printing start doing for product design what 2-D 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 3-D 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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