From 2D to 3D Printers: Short Step or Long Leap?

By Ms. Phyllis Gurgevich, Consulting Editor, Recycling Times Magazine

3D printing hasn’t reached mainstream status yet, but it is certainly making some major in-roads. Demonstrating this is Staples’ website where 3D printers are being marketed to home office and small business markets with an entry point of around US $1,300 plus supplies. And just last month, Amazon launched a special retail section dedicated to 3D printers and supplies, making it even easier to print 3D models.

Microsoft announced that it will be adding 3D printing support to Windows 8.1, giving millions of PCs native support for 3D printing. Connecting a 3D printer to a Windows PC isn’t new, however, currently many 3D printing apps require extensive manipulation and time translating your creation into a format the printer software can process. Windows 8.1 will feature plug-and-play support for 3D printers much like standard printers currently enjoy.

3D printers and supplies are also showing up as a product line in our office imaging industry as well. As traditional cartridge remanufacturers seek to diversify and find paths for growth, 3D printing is definitely an interesting market to watch. 3D printing holds the potential to be disruptive, not necessarily to the tradition print but rather to manufacturing, tool and molding, transportation as well as jewelry, toys, accessories, prosthetic devices and simple apparel. For the office imaging industry, however, opportunity may just be surfacing.

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