One major factor still holding back 3D printing is the price of 3D printer. A good quality, automated 3D printer costs anywhere above 2000 USD which is way beyond the reach of many people. But with the launch of various new low cost 3D printers, this is going to change soon.
Two new 3D printers M3D Micro, MOD-t are soon to enter the market at price range of $349 and $149 respectively. M3D launched a kickstarter crowd funding campaign and it raised more than $3.4 million through the sale of more than 11,000 printers at price ranging from $199 to $299. When launched, the company’s Micro 3D printer will sell for $349 retail. To ensure the printer’s reliability and longevity, M3D micro uses an auto-leveling and auto-calibration system. Additionally, the company claims that Micro is the most space-efficient 3D printer and one of the most power-efficient.
Another company called New Matter has launched a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo and is offering their MOD-t 3D printer, which retails at $249 for $149 to the first 500 contributors. This is followed with the next 1000 sold at $199. The MOD-t uses a fused filament fabrication process and can create objects up to 6x4x5 inches. A two-axis motion system is used, limiting the way an object is built to up and down movements thereby limiting the price. It has built-in Wi-Fi, and the industrial design was by the well-known design firm Frog Design. New Matter intends to offer designing software and a curated marketplace for sharing built objects made by artists. New Matter strongly believes that an unified hardware and software experience is essential for people to explore and share their creations.
It is not only the price of the 3D printers that is coming down, even the price of the software to create 3D models is also coming down drastically. For instance, Autodesk announced an open source platform for 3D printing. Given the company’s position as a maker of modeling and design software, the move could boost this nascent industry of object printing. Autodesk will also introduce one 3D printer to act as a reference implementation for Spark thereby demonstrating the power of the Spark platform and setting a new benchmark for 3D printing user experience.
At the start of 2014, Adobe announced that its Photoshop software will soon begin supporting 3D printing. Also in January, 3D printer market MakerBot announced that DELL will be offering its 3D printers and scanners with DELL precision workshops. These are targeted at engineers testing product concepts, architects creating design models and start-ups toying with product designs. In November last year, Staples said it would start rolling out low-cost in-store 3D printing service, using the Mcor IRIS printer. Bringing the prices of 3D printers and their associated softwares down to the reach of a common man is very essential for the industry to take off. And if one looks at initiatives taken by big companies to bring low cost products into market, one can clearly find that it is a matter of time before this 3D printing takes off in a big way.
Image Credit: Martin Abegglen (flickr handle: twicepix)