While Autodesk’s absorption of Tinkercad adds another option to the firm’s rapidly expanding consumer-oriented product line, the more interesting aspect to the deal lies in its potential to help fuel adoption of 3D printing, which hinges on the availability of cheap and accessible design tools.
CES is upon us, and the news is starting to roll out. 3D Systems has hit the gate running with the release of two new 3D printers. The first is the next generation of the Cube, the company’s home 3D printer offering. The new Cube has been certified as safe for home use under IEC 60950 printer safety requirements, which is something of a first for an additive manufacturing (AM) system.
According to the company, the next-gen Cube is 1.5 times faster and has double the accuracy of the older system. The build envelope remains the same at 5.5 in. in X, Y and Z, but now offers green-friendly PLA and recyclable ABS plastic filament. To make the Cube even more environmentally friendly, 3D Systems has also implemented a program that allows customers to trade in used material cartridges for a discount on new cartridges. Continue reading
A fair amount of the Apple’s success has been based on branding. The company convinces its audience that its product is superior and easier to use than competing products. This results in an almost cult of personality level of devotion from Apple fans. Devotees eagerly follow each new release and update, happily ditching slightly outdated tech for the newest thing.
Some people might argue (I’m not judging here) that you don’t really need a MacBook Air to surf the web, but you can sure look cool doing so. At this point, 3D printing is a niche product for the home market. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to compare the efforts of companies like MakerBot to sell the maker idea to efforts of Apple to sell the iPad experience.
Personal additive manufacturing is still in its infancy, much like computers were before the PC revolution that brought the devices into nearly every home. Early PCs were bulky, expensive and usually didn’t come with a lot of bells and whistles. Early home 3D printing systems are pretty much the same.
The Thing-O-Matic, MakerBot’s first offering into the field, is now joined by the Replicator (I’m honestly surprised it took this long for someone to use the Star Trek reference). The Replicator shares the same rough-and-ready look of the Thing-O-Matic, but can be purchased with what MakerBot is calling their “Dualstrusion” option. Dualstrusion allows for two color products, which may be a first for home 3D printers.