I guess 3D printers for the consumer market may have to include a 3D scanner.
For example, you want to print a copy of your keys, just put the keys in the machine, press a key, and you've got a copy a few minutes later. Same for other objects.
Printed food may be another application for the consumer market, so you print some fancy chocolate figurine with your kids birthday, and so on.
If manufacturers provide 3D files for user serviceable parts of their device, that would really be a big boost for 3D printer, but I'm not sure this can realistically happen, due to different materials, and legal issues due to IP and potential litigations in case a printed part breaks.
I really like this thought. I would love to have local Kinkos type stores that provide this service. I think that there is a lot of room to improve on the current proto services that are offered online.
You bring up an interesting though, could you have a 3D printer that could also do standard 2D printing. That is an area that I think has yet to really be explored, but I could see this happening. I can envision a few ways to do it with ink jet technology.
Though, back to your point, I also do not see 3D printers taking over for 2D printers, but there are those that think that it will be as prolific as the standard 2D printer. I agree, though, that there remain significant roadblocks to see anything close to that.
I see some who are especially enthusiastic about this kind of technology adopting it, but for the most part there is no reason to think that 2D printers are going to go away. They are cheap, practical and--as this article points out--easy to use. The difficulty of learning the software and operating the hardware of a 3D printer will be a huge barrier. If Apple or a company that copies Apple gets into this space, that's one thing, but for now I don't see this taking off so much-although the technology itself is more than a little intriguing.
Yes, most people can own them but very few do...there is just too much hassle in making sure it works (tonner, connectivity etc)...I use 10 years old laser printer (not 3D of course) which works great except it doesn't connect to anything I have at home with the exception of one old PC...this is how industry is forcing printer upgrades...maybe they will attempt to do the same with 3D? "we only have 3D models in stock sir" ;-)...Kris
"I'd say a closer match to 3-D printer are photo printers (especially the large ones from Canon, Epson, & HP). How many people have them? Only the dedicated photo enthusiasts."
This is an excellent analogy. Photo printers have reached a low enough price and ease of use point for them to be ubiquitous. Everyone has or could have the capability to print their own high quality photos at home on real photo paper, but I suspect only a minority actually does so.
And just as with photo printing, 3D printing may become more commonly associated -- for most consumers -- with a service provided by the local drugstore or big box retailer. Upload your files, then come to the store tomorrow to pick up your objects.
I too agree that there is a lot of hype, but then again, there are a few companies that have been able to hype products so much that people end up purchasing them without ever having a real productive need for them. Is this the path that 3D printing is on? I do not think so, I not sure that there is much to draw people down a path like that. Then again, if Apple got into the industry, anything could happen ;)
You make an interesting parallel. In a way, if these devices do not become too popular, they may be able to skirt under some of the legal challenges that could present themselves in the future as there is not enough money in it for the big companies to go after that income stream.