New 3D Printer Raises $2 Million on Kickstarter

Ask any three knowledgeable people what they think about home additive manufacturing (AM) systems and you’ll probably get three different responses. Some, like Terry Wohlers of Wohlers Associates, will tell you people don’t want or need a 3D printer in the home. Others, such as Joshua Pearce from Michigan Technological University (MTU), believe a home 3D printer is already useful enough to be given a place as a household appliance.

In the end, it’s consumers who will decide the issue, and some of them recently backed another home 3D printer, The Micro, on Kickstarter. The product of startup M3D, the Micro is being touted as the first AM system designed with home consumers in mind. Kickstarter backers can get one for a mere $299 (if they hurry), and early backers got an even better deal at $199. Continue reading

Rapid Ready Roundup: Materialise, Canalys, Netflix, and Tattoos

In the course of my diligent efforts to keep you good people up to date on the state of additive manufacturing, 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.

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Amazon Tests Print-on-Demand Services

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.

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3D Systems Previews Third Generation Cube and CubePro

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

Afinia Denies Stratasys’ Claims of Patent Infringement

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