I may be a little late with this overview/preview bandwagon entry, but I'll try to be original, or maybe not, you can judge. It's late because I completely disconnected over the holiday season, and then I had to catch up. It was worth it.
2011 was quite a year from my perspective as a commentator on 3D printing / additive manufacturing. It was different in many ways, not least the rate of news and growing awareness and increasing user population. While I am certain there is still a great deal more to come within this fascinating arena, I think I am convinced that I will look back on it as the year it all began in earnest. I am not quite sure what that makes the preceding 14 years though.
The preface? The introduction? The preamble?
So, by far, the week that stands out most for me in 2011 came at the end of November. Euromold saw the launch of no less than eight new additive machines. To date, this was a unique week indeed. It speaks of the growing population of companies manufacturing and supplying different (and improving) variations of 3D printers. It also points to an expanding market and increasing user uptake. This is brilliant, particularly considering the generic global climate that these companies are operating in. 3D printing is one sector that has consistently swum against the tide, with success, and looks set to continue to do so.
And so 2012 is underway, and with the potential of global meltdown ceaselessly opined from the news channels — whether sooner if the Euro fails, or later if the Mayan calendar proves the end of time — the world of 3D printing continues onwards and upwards, and I am glad to be part of it.
CES is taking place this week in Las Vegas and 3D Systems' is using it as the platform to launch a brand new concept from the company. Cubify.com looks stunningly good, and has the potential to reach 'Everyman.' The pre-launch announcement last week introduced an online create-and-make experience, which, according to the company, offers "a fully integrated, fluid interface ...with intuitive 3D apps, rich 3D printable content libraries ....for any mobile device, tablet or kinect." The beta site goes live tomorrow. Alongside this, the company also announced a new 3D printer — the Cube — due to start shipping in the next few months. A deposition machine, reminiscent of the UP 3D printer framework, I have to say that it really looks like a consumer product. I want one, and I am not alone! The printer can be seen in action here, fortunately it sells itself: http://bit.ly/zsfHlR
Makerbot has also announced that it is making a significant announcement at CES. This one has not filtered through yet though ...... wonder what it could be?
So with 8.5 days of 2012 behind us and things hotting up already, what does this year hold? I think I can safely say there will be new machines. How many? Not even going to guestimate! I'm just going to wait & watch & tell you about them as they hit :-|)
Happy New Year to you all. x