CES 3D Printing (part 4)

Rep1Today we are going to talk about one of those trends that could really change how things are done in our world – 3D printing.  You can’t really draw a good picture of exactly how it will change the world because if a technology is truly disruptive it creates so many changes so fast that it is impossible to anticipate what is going to happen.  If you talked to someone who was really excited and knowledgeable about the internet when it first started and asked them why it’s such a big deal or what will we be able to do with it?  Their answers today would seem vague and very short sighted.  They might say “ it would allow computers to talk directly with each other”  or “you could send a message from New York to Los Angeles and one time it could go through Chicago and the next time through Houston and it would do it automatically!”MakerBot Digitizer 3D Scanner

These things are true of course but no one today would describe it that way. Something like facebook was absolutely impossible for those people to see from where they were standing.  BUT if you were to go back in time and tell them about it they would have no problem believing you because they KNEW this thing called the internet was gong to change everything.  Some people think that way about 3D printing.  3D printing examples and demos aren’t up to the task of communicating the potential of 3D printing and what it means to us.  But the light bulb has gone off and they think something big is going to happen.  There have been other technologies with devout armwavers that never panned out, but I think this is the real thing.

Makerbot is perhaps the industry leader in the consumer 3D printing market.  One of the things that makes them unique is they are extremely open with information and hardware/software design.  They leverage their users to help with development and support of their product.  They have a loyal following.  At CES this year they use the Goldilocks product strategy introducing 3 models of their third generation Replicator.  They have come a long way from the 1st generation mad of wood that you put together yourself.  They also have a scanner that lets you copy an object with your 3D printer.

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Of course Makerbot has plenty of competition.  In the early phase of a technology the rate of change is extreme.  Makerbot’s competitors will make printers and scanners that will be cheaper, faster, bigger . . . you get the idea, than the Makerbot offering but Makerbot has an ace up it’s sleeve that will give it a major advantage.  Everyone who buys a printer, no matter the brand wants to print something – now.  I can hear some of you now, “well duhhhhh”  It is complicated and time consuming to create your own model from scratch and most consumers won’t have a scanner when they buy their first printer.  Wouldn’t it be great if there was a web site that had tons of things your could print ready to go.  Some would be free and some might cost a buck.  Sounds like your app store right??  And of course it’s also a community with people asking question, bragging about the mods and upgrades and just supplying a lot of good information in general.  Well you are in luck, there is THINGIVERSE.COM.  Want to make a chess set?  Get the models to print at thingiverse and the models don’t just work with Makerbot’s equipment.  In the future their model marketplace could be more valuable then their hardware business.




And for our fun gadget of the day, how about


ear buds that monitor your heart rate and adjust your music to match it to help keep your pace?  It’s a technology demo at Intel.  Pretty cool right?







Gratuitous “Tech Video”





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