3D Print Show


The wristband of power. And a Lego watch

Another reason to go to London, apart from the Augmented Reality event yesterday, was to drop in on the 3D Printshow that was taking place in London this weekend. Ultimaker, the company that made my 3D printer, were there and I wanted to drop by and see how they were doing. I also wanted to see what was going on in this area. The answer is rather a lot. We arrived before the show opened, but there was already quite a queue snaking around the courtyard waiting to get in. Fortunately we weren’t waiting long and soon we were inside marvelling at the way this technology is moving forward. And boy, is it moving. I counted five 3D printers I’d never seen before, all printing away merrily in front of throngs of fascinated folks. Autodesk were there too, along with lots of other companies, some I’d heard of, some not.


The folks at Sculpteo will take your designs and make them. You can even design your artefacts on their web page.


They can even print in colour, and the quality is lovely.


There were some lovely examples of printing


This is a great piece of art. The heights of the keys show the popularity of the web sites behind them.


This was a very clever piece of 3D art. The cylindrical mirror in the middle shows a perfect image of a hand, reflecting the seriously distorted sculpture.


They had a band, and of course all their instruments had been printed…DSCF8894.jpg

At the Ultimaker stand they had a seriously impressive dual extruder printer which had turned out some incredible prints.DSCF8888.jpg  

One major bonus was these folks being at the show. Formlabs might just have the future of 3D printing in their hands. They’ve built a 3D printer that uses an optical technology and special syrup that solidifies under UV light. The resolution is streets ahead of anything comparable at the price. Only snag I can see is that the raw material is a bit pricey, at 130 dollars a litre, but with a bit of luck this will drop over time. Some of the things they had printed were astonishingly good and because there is no messing around with hot and sticky plastic, their printer has a good chance of making it as an appliance.

There were lots of people selling ready made printers and claiming that they have a device for the mass market. I’m not convinced of this. I’d love to be proved wrong, but for now I still see it as a tinkerer’s toy. Ultimaker sell their machines as kits and I think that this is actually quite an honest thing to do. Once you have built the machine you end up with a pretty solid understanding of how it works and how to fix it when it goes wrong. And I reckon all the current crop of printers will go wrong I’m afraid. In a few years time, when the technology has settled down, maybe we will see it in the home, From the interest that I saw at the show, this is just a matter of time.