2013 was a year filled with speculation on when 3D printing would become user friendly enough to go mainstream, with a new Kickstarter campaign popping up every month promising to deliver the easiest-to-use 3D printer. Many of those campaigns were wildly successful and the various printers are now in the final last steps of quality testing before full production. Additionally, the big players realized there’s actual demand for desktop 3D printing and rushed their R&D teams to produce affordable, consumer-level 3D printers. As such, there were a LOT of 3D printers at CES 2014, too many to list here. A few were too good to not mention though, and these are those:
Da Vinci by XYZprinting
For $499 the Da Vinci offers 100 micron printing on a 20cm x 20cm x 20cm build volume, a heated auto-adjusting bed, custom software that works with a cloud, and an affordable cartridge system that makes changing filament a breeze. That is a serious value.
Not to be outdone by the startups, MakerBot (owned by Stratasys) was in full attendance with a refreshed line of Replicators. The soon-to-be released Mini offers small-scale PLA printing with no leveling or tinkering. This plug-and-play printer can build objects as large as 10cm x 10cm x 12.5cm, operates over Wi-Fi, has a built-in camera for monitoring and showing off prints, and has a smart extruder that will pause a print if no filament is detected. All for $1375.
The redesigned (5th generation) Replicator has all the bells and whistles of the Mini, but with a full-color LCD display and a larger build volume of 25.2cm x 19.9cm x 15cm. It runs $2899.
For those needing a more professional desktop 3D printer, MakerBot delivers the Replicator Z18. It has a huge 30.5cm x 30.5cm x 45.7cm (18 inches, hence the name) build volume that’s enclosed and heated for beautiful prints with no curling. The Z18 will be available in the spring for $6499.
Of course 3D Systems couldn’t let Stratasys/MakerBot have all the attention. The Cube 3 offers 75 micron dual extrusion with ABS and PLA, auto bed leveling, Wi-Fi connectivity, and simple operation for less than $1000.
Where the Cube 3 is for artists and hobbyists, the CubePro is catered to designers and engineers. It’s equipped with three extruders and an enclosed build volume of 27.5cm x 26.5cm x 24cm. The price will be below $5000.
The chocolate lovers will eat up the ChefJet; custom chocolates and sugar candies can be concocted with the press of a button. The monochrome version will be under $5000, and the larger ChefJet Pro that can print full-color candy will be under $10,000. Every pastry chef will want one of these.
Clay modelers and sculptors will either love or hate the CeraJet. Pieces too intricate to sculpt by hand are easily printed by CeraJet in ceramic that can be fired like normal. Custom teapots that match your custom sugar cubes? You bet. Expect to pay less than $10,000.
The CubeJet will be the game-changer though. Full-color, photorealistic 3D prints. ‘Nuff said. For less than $5000 the CubeJet can print any of the 3DMe figures with your face, plus anything else you may want in color. Get excited for spring.