Monday, November 26, 2007

Can I borrow a cup of silver colloid solution?

Back at EuroFoo 2004 I ran a couple of sessions; one on worth (and commoditisation) and the other on fabrication technologies. Apparently at the latter session, I stated "home printers to be here within three years".

Well it looks like I was out by six months or so. DeskTop Factory has won Popular Science Magazine's Best of What's New Award.

Cool. So the first home 3D printers will be available next year at $4995 a piece.

Still it's not cheap, but then the first mass produced inkjets - the HP ThinkJet (1984) - was priced at $495 which is between $950 and $1,700 in today's terms (depending upon which measure you use).

These days you can pick up a high resolution inkjet photo printer for less than a $100. I expect the same to happen with 3D printers, and over the next decade the capability of these home fabrication machines to include not just form, but multiple materials and electronics.

[Added : Objet Geometries have announced Polyjet Matrix and a 3D printer capable of printing out in multiple materials]

They will become commonplace as well as cheap. Of course the real money will be in materials and design.

With the commoditisation of the manufacturing process itself and a further reduction of the barriers to participation, we will start to see the extension of the consumer as producer into new industries.

I look forward to the day, that my neighbour asks to borrow more exotic materials than sugar.

P.S. Watch the video .... there is a duck in it!