3D printing opens up a world of possibilities, from recreating human body parts in plastic and cells to making mind-bending designs otherwise impossible with standard production techniques. But its broadest impact may be on some of the more mundane part of our lives.
During a special preview of the fourth annual 3D Print Show in New York City, which runs from April 16 to April 19, I was struck not by the random 3D-printed hands scattered about, but rather by the home décor that came from 3D printers, ranging from lamps and wall-hangings to wine bottle holders and furniture.
See also: I Drove a 3D Printed Car
“No more Android robots and Yoda’s,” said 3DShook’s Hector Berrebi as he showed off a very functional, modular 3D-printed wine rack from his team of 3D print designers. Berrebi’s small startup wants to turn 3D printing into a subscription service. Just pay them $14.99 a month (or $99.99 a year) and you’ll have access to a growing library of 3D design objects that range from the practical — wine rack, vases and book-ends — to slightly wiggier, yet no less functional, products like 3D-printed iPhone amplifiers.
Berrebi calls 3DShook an “all you can print service,” which is distinct from an all-you can download service. They’re actually building DRM into the 3D files so 3DShook will know who is printing and if they are abusing the license. However, Berrebi insisted, “There’s no reason to pirate when the product is so good and at such a good price point.”
All designs come direct for 3DShook, which employs a team of industrial designers. Building the 3D designs in house helps 3DShook maintain quality control. In fact, he told me he loses 30% of designs in the QA phase because they want them to be perfect.
Of course, not all of his printed objects are so serious. On the other side of the 3DShook display were a dozen or so 3D-printed masks. Berrebi insisted that, by 2016, 3D shook would have the largest collection of masks available for purchase in the world. “Most people can’t stock 300 masks, but we can because it’s files, after all,” he said.
These days, 3D printers are for sale in nationwide retail chains like Home Depot. Still, I don’t know many people who actually own and use them. I asked Berrebi if this concerned him. Not really, he said, “We want to be ahead of time, so that when it is time, we are so big, there is no ignoring us.”
Too big to be ignored
Just a few steps away from 3DShook I spotted two people crawling around inside what looked like a giant, orange 3D printer. While it resembled an oversized replica of a half-dozen 3D printers dotting the show floor, but the BigRep One.2 is not a sculpture, it’s the world’s largest, regularly sold 3D Printer.
The fact that One.2 looks so much like the small scale printers at the show is no accident, “Without desktop printing we would not be doing this right now,” said BigRep CEO Rene Gurka.
Standing roughly 5 feet tall, One.2 is capable of printing large and beautiful objects, like the basketball-sized moon replica based on NASA data (see above). It’s a two-piece solid object that took four days to print.
One.2 is also capable of printing full-sized furniture from a variety of materials, including PLA and wood filament. Gurka showed me an end table printed in the One.2 and told me they’ve sold dozens of these printers all over the world. In the U.S., it costs $40,000 and comes with a 3 ft.-tall control box that belies its industrial nature.
The power of this printer, said Gurka, is that it lets people “skip 30 years of development, because they're getting the tools to take part in normal industrial production.”
BigRep’s printer is often used by companies for rapid prototyping though, he lamented, none of their partners would let them bring any of those prototype examples to the show.
However, with its large-scale print capabilities, One.2 could make an impression at your local furniture store. “We’re thinking about asking Ikea to put one in a store just to print lampshades,” said Gurka.
Printers you can buy
Earlier I asked 3DShook’s Berrebi which printer consumers might use to output his company’s custom-designed and curated objects. He was quick to recommend the MarkerBot Replicator 2 that he was using at the exhibit to print his models. However, he noted that it is, at almost $2,000, expensive.
Perhaps something at the other-end of the spectrum might work. Nestled in the corner of the show floor I found Zeepro. Its Zim printer starts at $349 and definitely has its charms.
The printer uses modular filament cartridges, which means no open spools that you have to thread. It also comes with a web cam that auto-creates a time-lapse every time you print. It’s also cloud-connected. Zeepro EVP Benjamin Vallat showed me how he could launch a print job on his home Zim though his iPhone. The company also sells a dual-extruder model for $1,299.
There were, as you would expect, also a healthy collection of eye-popping 3D-printed art objects at the show, including an arresting sandstone print of James Stewart sculpture, which was scanned into Adobe Photoshop and then digitally painted before it was printed in multiple parts, reconstructed and covered with an acrylic coating that makes it look like porcelain, and some more unusual creations that might be impossible with traditional mediums.
Later this week, the event will hold its annual 3D-printed fashion show. A handful of dresses and accessories were already on display. Some looked fashionable and others, well, uncomfortable.
Before I left, though, I found yet another more practical use for 3D printing. 52Shapes is a Netherlands company outputting lovely, 3D-printed lighting fixtures on a Shapeways printer. “They’re available in any color you want. As long as it’s white,” joked 52shape’s Paul Eikelenboom. Most customers, he added, actually spray paint the designs in the colors of their choice after they receive them. The company produces a new fixture design each week and prices range from $175 to over $350.
With 3D building printers already in development, the show left me with the impression that a 3D lifestyle — both outside our homes and in — is well within reach.
Source : http://mashable.com/2015/04/16/3d-printing-shoots-for-the-moon/