Even if you never feel the need to own a 3D printer of your very own, the odds are fair you may want to take advantage of additive manufacturing (AM) at some point for a special gift, hard to find item, or just for the novelty. Print-on-demand manufacturing is a growing business, already operating at enough volume for companies such as Shapeways to build their own dedicated factories.
Following the general modus operandi of, “If it’s sold online, we want a piece of the action,” Amazon has taken note of the potential for sales in the print-on-demand market. The result is a partnership with 3DLT to launch a pilot program offering both print-on-demand items and digital designs ready to be printed at home, or at the office if you are sneaky enough.
The additive manufacturing (AM) desktop market is becoming a crowded place. You’ve got MakerBot, RepRap, Formlabs, Afinia, and the dozens, if not hundreds, of smaller companies all vying for a space in your home or office. The majority of the systems offered use the material extrusion process, though a few, like the FORM1, offer alternatives.
3D Systems joined the desktop market with the Cube just a couple years back. Each year has seen a new iteration of the Cube, and this year is off to a quick start with the unveiling of the Cube 3 and the new CubePro at CES. Continue reading
Although many people might think of Apple v. Samsung as an example of modern big business gone wrong, the lawsuit has long been a staple of business strategy in the United States. Thomas Edison was notorious for his patent lawsuits, often using them to drive competitors out of business. This same strategy has been embraced by companies of every shape and size, but becomes more noticeable when giants rumble or when a larger company seems to be unfairly targeting smaller competitors.
By most analyst’s reckoning, the first big boom in desktop 3D printers came as a result of the expiration of key patents pertaining to Stratasys’ Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) process. The expirations galvanized the open source community, resulting in the RepRap, which in turn gave birth to companies like MakerBot. For a while it seemed as though Stratasys gave its blessing to these developments by not attempting to halt open source development with claims of patent infringement. That time now appears to have passed. Continue reading
This year was an interesting one for additive manufacturing (AM), with plenty of big moves inside the industry and hints of upcoming changes to the landscape from without. Medical uses for 3D printing really started to gather steam, with prosthetics being one of the largest areas of development. In 2013, we also saw a general shift in AM from a pure prototyping tool to an increase in end-use production.
Stratasys moved into the home 3D printer arena with its acquisition of MakerBot in June. That particular move, along with the merger with Objet in 2012, helped Stratasys to diversify its portfolio, branching out into areas of AM in which the company previously had little or no presence. Continue reading
In the course of my diligent efforts to keep you good people up to date on the state of additive manufacturing (AM), I come across many interesting news items. I’ll gather them up every so often and present them in a Rapid Ready Roundup (like this one). You can find the last Roundup here.
We’ll start today’s Roundup with 3D printing service news. Office Depot announced it would be expanding its in-store AM service to 150 stores across the US. The office supply chain will be placing 3D Systems Cube or the CubeX in both the service department and on the floor. Office Depot will also be providing 3D printing demonstrations at select stores in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, and Texas. Continue reading