I spent the day at the “Inside 3-D Printing” convention at the Javits Center on the west side of Manhattan.
My main take away is that the sector has something of a middle-ground problem: Either you’re a “hobbyist” or “tinkerer,” two pseudo-professions that you’d be hard-pressed to grow a market out of.
Or, you’re a multi-national aerospace and defence company looking into 3-D manufacturing for a billion-dollar system that you can’t even talk about. This is where the real growth will have to come from if the industry wants to take off. Boeing 3D–prints more than 22,000 different components, and GE is saying the process will revolutionise the prototyping process.
So the industry is definitely expanding, but at what rate remains unclear.
Anyway, the coolest part of the show was this: I am now 50% of the way to printing a 3-D model of myself.
3-D Systems’ “Sense” scanner, which retails for $US400, lets the average consumer scan literally anything, including themselves, and send it off to be 3-D printed.
Here’s what it looks like when the 3D Systems guy scans you:
And here’s me:
My ear needed some retouching
It will cost me up to $US60 to print it out, depending on what size I want. It doesn’t look bad though.
I’ll know soon what it looks like, but for a taste, check out the results from Germany-based twinkind, which has been doing this kind of thing for at least a year: