April 8 - The 3D Printing industry is looking homeward with lower cost models for consumers as the industry looks to grow to $16 billion in sales by 2016, according to one estimate. Conway G. Gittens reports.
A car, a bike, even your own Yoda. You can have it all with one push of a button. Just find something you like, take a picture of it with your smart phone, run it through a program that makes it 3D-printable, and send it to a printer... and voila! Phair Tsai works at XYZPrinting, a company that is introducing low-cost, $500 3D printers. SOUNDBITE PHAIR TSAI, ONLINE SALES AND MARKETING SPECIALIST, XYZPRINTING (ENGLISH) SPEAKING: "The technology we use is basically to mount a thin line of a filament and then add it up as it cools down and fabricates the entire object. So this is the most common technology used in households of personal 3D, desktop 3D printers." By cutting price tags, 3D printing companies are hoping to soon find their way into the home market. And that's on top of a growing industry catering to larger businesses. According to industry research group Canalys, 3D printing is now worth $2.5 billion globally, and is expected to reach $16.2 billion by 2016. With so many dollars up for grabs - companies recently showcased their latest designs and 3D printouts. Alan Meckler is the chairman and CEO of Mediabistro, a company that organized the 3D Printing expo. SOUNDBITE: ALAN MECKLER, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, MEDIABISTRO (ENGLISH) SPEAKING: "When you have five thousand plus people, you know, in a show like this, I would say, you know, that 60% of them are probably thinking about getting a printer at home. And/or the idea that they can start a business on a side, keep their day job and start designing products that they can sell online by having their own manufacturing facility in their home." Michael Giannetto is starting his own 3D printing company and says the technology is both a time saver and a cost saver. SOUNDBITE: MICHAEL GIANNETTO (ENGLISH) SPEAKING: "Traditionally, if you were to make something, you'd have to prototype it, mold it, ten thousand dollars later, you got a product. With 3 D printing, you mess up, you go to your product, tweak it up and five minutes later you print it out and you get the finished product. With that design process or production process, I can make products very, very quickly, with no downtime and without even waiting. I can just print it overnight, I wake up the next day, and I get a new product." Cathy Lewis is the chief marketing officer at 3D Systems, a company that offers printers that cost from a thousand dollars to a million dollars. SOUNDBITE: CATHY LEWIS, CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER, 3D SYSTEMS (ENGLISH) SPEAKING: "We're already putting 3D printers in people's homes. The big driver's going to be content, price points, ease of use and that whole experience where you feel like you're engaged with your 3D printer. We think that's going to happen very soon and there is going to be multiple printers in homes, and you'll be able to go to your local department store and pick up your 3D printing output. You'll be able to go to Kinkos and FedEx and pick up your product. You're going to have a whole ecosystem around 3D printing." Forecasts like that has printing powerhouse Hewlett-Packard getting into the 3D business, which is likely to shake things up for these smaller players.