3D Printing Expo Puts a Changing Business World on Display

1 - 3D Printing Expo Puts a Changing Business World on Display
2 - 3D Printing Is No Fad
3 - 3D Systems' Jazz Display
4 - No Vertical Untouched
5 - Giving Form to Animation
6 - 3D Systems' Lineup
7 - MakerBot's Competition
8 - Custom Manufacturing
9 - Keeping It Simple
10 - For the DIY Set
11 - It's in the Details
12 - Printing as a Service
13 - Supporting the Arts
14 - Have Printer, Will Work
15 - WhiteClouds Displays Its Offerings
16 - Cimquest Sells Services, Printers
17 - PP3DP Lower-Price 3D Printers
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3D Printing Expo Puts a Changing Business World on Display

by Michelle Maisto

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3D Printing Is No Fad

The Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo is a Javits Center-sized reminder that the market is growing fast. Research firm Canalys, calling the market "still in its infancy" in a March 31 report, projected that the market will grow from 2013's $2.5 billion to $16.2 billion by 2018. (That figure includes 3D printer sales and associated materials and services.)

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3D Systems' Jazz Display

Attendees on the show floor were treated to a jazz performance outside the 3D Systems booth. The drum kit and keyboard were 3D-printed.

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No Vertical Untouched

It's hard to imagine a vertical market this technology won't impact. While 3D Systems displayed these rubber-soled shoes, Magnetic Visions showed off options for high heels.

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Giving Form to Animation

Animators are enjoying the ability to create physical models of their on-screen creations. This model, too, is from 3D Systems.

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3D Systems' Lineup

The 3D Systems' portfolio includes home desktop models (starting at $1,299), professional models (ideal for prototyping and more), and production models capable of creating master patterns and real end-use parts. Its Cube 3 (pictured here and in detail, printing a large chess piece) is coming this quarter, can print directly from a mobile device and prints at speeds up to "two times faster than other printers," according to the company.

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MakerBot's Competition

Brooklyn-based MakerBot has popularized the desktop category, and it now has plenty of competition. Afinia makes a $1,599, 11-pound desktop printer that it markets as the simplest to use out of the box. On its site, it welcomes comparisons to MakerBot (Afinia's one-year warranty vs. MakerBot's for 14 days) and Cubify (which has a 90-day warranty and no extended warranty option).

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Custom Manufacturing

Solid Concepts offers 3D printing, rapid prototyping, tooling and injection-molding services. It can develop a customer's concept, from prototype to finished product. The life-sized action hero, Zoomer, was its own idea.

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Keeping It Simple

At the other end of the spectrum is XYZ Printing, which makes da Vinci 3D printers that start (for a single-nozzle print head) at $499. This dual-nozzle model is $649 and offers a print layer resolution between 100 and 400 microns.

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For the DIY Set

Tinkerine makes wood-framed 3D printers that can come as a kit (for extra savings—and maybe extra fun) or preassembled. The do-it-yourself Litto prints at a resolution of 100 microns and is $999.

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It's in the Details

Form Labs printed out a magnifying glass holder to show off the detailing its Form 1 printer is capable of. (It can achieve a thickness of just 25 microns.) The roughly 3- by 2-inch plastic holder took 2 hours and 45 minutes to print. While many desktop printers use a plastic filament, which gets heated, the Form 1 uses liquid resin, which hardens. The Form 1 will begin shipping in June, priced at $3,299.

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Printing as a Service

Sculpteo says it helps people and businesses to "buy, sell and 3D print ideas as solid objects." This little guy is made of a "fine mineral powder" that's as hard and as brittle as porcelain but has a sandy, grainy surface—ideal for ornaments, according to the company. It also prints in wax, sterling silver, aluminum dust and plastic.

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Supporting the Arts

The show included artist Ioan Florea's 1971 Ford Torino. Florea's process includes using a 3D printer to create plastic molds to shape liquid metal into sculptures. (He's also created a metal cover for a 200-year-old covered wagon.)

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Have Printer, Will Work

Kurt Wendt, a freelance prototyper who goes by the name The Bot Guy, exhibited one of his creations.

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WhiteClouds Displays Its Offerings

Utah-based WhiteClouds will create and print just about anything for customers. It prints in rubber, resin, plastic, sandstone and other materials.

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Cimquest Sells Services, Printers

Cimquest offers printing services but also sells a range of printers, from desktop units to models like this one from Dimension 3D Printers. It's designed to print large items (like bicycle parts), and its price starts at around $24,900.

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PP3DP Lower-Price 3D Printers

PP3DP, from the Beijing TierTime Technology Co., makes inexpensive printers (starting below $900) for prototyping. Its goal, it said, is to "build a factory for anyone, anywhere, any time."

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