3D Printers: The New Way to Download Gifts

Dennis Faas's picture

It's the night before Christmas, and as your daughter is preparing for bed,

An important reminder has entered your head.

"I want a new Barbie" you hear your daughter implore,

But her Christmas Barbie remains locked in the store.

What does a parent do? Scream? Shout? Drive across the country to find one?


All you have to do is casually walk over to your PC, download the blueprints for the doll, send it to the printer and a new Barbie will appear in your printing tray within hours.

As wild as this concept is to imagine, 3D printers have existed for almost a decade now. They usually come in high-end models and sell for over $100,000 each. These printers are typically used to test designs for cars, airplanes and other machinery. (Source: nytimes.com)

In the last few years, however, three-dimensional printers have significantly decreased in price. Some can even be found with a price tag of $15,000 each.

Industry analysts believe that this trend of falling printer prices is likely to continue, with some even estimating that corner copy stores and other small businesses will incorporate three-dimensional printers into their office landscape within the next two years. (Source: iht.com)

The next step after that? Logically, three-dimensional printers will be available for home use.

IdeaLab wants to be the first company to offer these concept printers to the average consumer and have tentatively set their completion date for the end of this year. The first batch of home-use printers will sell for $5,000 each. (Source: iht.com)

But these new concepts do not stop here. Bill Gross, chairman of IdeaLab, is in the midst of developing a printing method whereby halogen light bulbs are used to melt nylon powder and create a solid finished product. If successful, the price of three-dimensional printers would fall to $1,000 each within the next four years.

While apparently minimal in price compared to the complex functions that these printers can handle, representatives for IdeaLab have admitted that the materials used to manufacture three-dimensional printers only cost around $300. (Source: nytimes.com)

IdeaLab has invested a number of their resources to reach their intended target date and remains optimistic that their small company will pioneer what hopes to be the printer of the future.

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