We’ve had our eye on 3D printing technology for a while. Apart from being blow-you-away cool, it’s the kind of tech that is a game-changer for any company working in the design space. It’s another way for architects to communicate with clients; a fly-through you can hold. It’s real-time prototyping without the pain and drudgery of hand-assembled models. It speeds up iterations on practically any design process. And all this utility adds up to dollars. Forbes thinks the industry will be worth over $3b in 4 years time. Of course, bigger firms are already making use of 3D printing, and there are plenty of industrial-strength options for them.
But it’s the consumer space that’s getting increasingly exciting, and not least because it’s getting increasingly cheap. The recent announcement of the Replicator 2, a ~$2,000 consumer 3D printer made in Brooklyn tells the story. It prints with a resolution of 100 microns, and has a printable volume up to 410 cubic inches. Here’s it producing a replica of a building in Paris:
It’s not the only one, either, a number of companies have brought similar products with similar features to market. Marketplaces and communities are springing up to create ecosystems around these great devices, like those at Thingiverse and Cubify.
All this movement at the low end of the market is great for businesses. We think the potential for crossover into small and medium architects, designers and engineering firms here is enormous. While lacking high-end features, these print boxes provide an entry point to the technology that’s cheaper than a high-end SLR. Features will filter down from the high-end to the low-end, too. And in case you’re wondering, they’ll be available in Australia soon, and the price looks like it’ll be a very reasonable premium on top of the US list.