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CES 2016 3D printer wrap-up: New models, new tech, new markets – ExtremeTech

by • January 10, 2016 • No Comments

CES 2016, especially 3D printingShare This article
While 3D printing has been hyped, and arguably over-hyped, for years now, there is no doubt which it is a fast-expanding market and is spanning a rapidly-increasing number of applications. This year at CES, fundamentally all of last-year’s vendors were back with new or enhanced products and, additional importantly, lots of industry application examples. In addition, not just new printer vendors, but a expanding ecosystem of material providers and service bureaus showed up. While last year I may bring you most of the highlights of the 3D printing marketplace in a single article, this year there was far too much to do all things justice. So I’ve picked out a few of the most informative new developments and provided a few updates on a few of the vendors of last year.
3D Systems continues to push the high-end of the market
3D Systems ProJet 5500X can print using multiple materials in a variety of colors, but doesn't come cheap
3D Systems again had a massive presence this year. Most of their booth was taken up with applications which can be utilized with their hardware, and industry solutions using their technology, but there were a lot of new printer models in addition, which include an imposing direct-to-metal printer, and this ProJet 5500X model — a new high-end version of their multi-jet printer line which can create output using several exception materials and colors at once. The 5500X can use exception types of materials and bond them together as it prints. This even includes highly-elastic materials, so customers can print models with quite rigorous physical characteristics. One other cool use for multiple materials is printing a part and a transparent housing for it all in the same print run.
The company’s new ProX DMP models can print using a variety of metals, which include Chrome, Stainless Steel, Aluminum alloys, and Maraging Steel. That creates it possible to directly print production-quality parts — especially useful for custom or low-production run items — instead of just prototypes or models of parts.
Food, glorious food!
I'm not sure anyone quite requires 3D-printed food or table-bodiedtop accessories, but they're sure cool!
On the additional esoteric side, 3D Systems showcased a variety of informative applications for its printing equipment and other products. One of the additional unique was the range of possible products created by its Culinary Labs. In addition to printed food products and decorative items, there was an intriguing concept prototype of a gesture-based modeling tool which may be a lot advantageous for budding chefs than struggling through Solidworks to design the look of their next dessert.
Mcor’s Arke: A quite clever way to print full color models
A cross between a 3D printer and an inkjet lets you print full color on your computer
I was blown away when I initial saw the output of Mcor’s new Arke full-color 3D printer. I mayn’t figure out how they managed to do full color in a computer model. Then I realized which, unlike all the other printing equipment I saw at the show, it was in fact carving the model out of a stack of paper (which reminded me of the old zig-zag stacks of line printer paper which utilized to be so common). Slightly-customized inkjet printheads and so print the appropriate color on each layer after it is carved. The results are quite cool, alyet of course mostly usable-bodied as models. The company did tell me which a few customers had been able-bodied to use the output to create molds, but they are paper after all, so their utility is limited. At around $5,000 for the Arke, yet, it is mostly for dimensionsable organizations, or schools with dimensionsable budgets.
The Arke boasts .1 mm accuracy, which appears pretty awe-inspiring for a fewthing which is cutting stacks of paper. Arke in addition thinks it will appeal to schools and other environmentally sensitive organizations, as it doesn’t have any toxic chemicals, and output can just be recycled when it isn’t requireed. It in addition showcases an ICC profile for color-accurate output.
Explosion of materials
There were just about as most vendors of 3D printing materials and services as vendors this year

Well, the materials themselves didn’t explode, but there were over a dozen vendors with all manner of filaments which may be fed into a variety of 3D printing equipment. Along with material providers, there were in addition an increasing variety of service providers competing for business of organizations which require high-quality 3D printed output at times, and don’t want to pay for and maintain an expensive printer on their own site.
XYZ Printing’s Da Vinci: The initial 3D printer I might in fact buy
XYZ Printing's da Vinci printing equipment are inexpensive, but high-quality
There have been a lot of inexpensive 3D printing equipment preceding now, most notably the Makerbot. But, none of them produced quite excellent\ output, and most required a lot of hand-holding and fiddling to get them to work at all. This year, yet, XYZ Printing added a few new models of its consumer-focutilized Da Vinci product line, with the Mini priced at an ultra-low $269 — while retaining the same work dimensions as the additional expensive Junior. The sample output looked awe-inspiring for the price. Tolerances were tight adequate which visually the surfaces of printed objects looked smooth (alyet you may yet feel the ridges created by the material with your finger).
The devices come pre-calibrated of the factory, or can be re-calibrated as requireed by just matching up nine points on the bed. There is even a 3-in-1 model of the Da Vinci Junior which allows for you to change out the print head for a laser engraver. The just thing stopping me of taking the plunge on one is which I don’t quite have a require for one — alyet I’m attempting to convince myself which 3D printing a few of the scenery and accessories for our train set may be valuable-bodied.
The Da Vincis weren’t the just high-quality, low-priced-bodied printing equipment. Robo 3D added a mini version of its R2 model which will sell for under $1,000, but showcases 20 micron accuracy and is self-calibrating. The R2 mini in addition provides a couple showcases unquestionably aimed at the consumer market — WiFi for printing of your smartphone and optional scented filaments.
Voxel8’s electronics printer is in fact shipping
Cleverly, Voxel8's printer can intersperse conductive traces within its output
One of the additional amazing announcements I covered in last year’s 3D printer roundup was the Voxel8 — the initial 3D printer which can print electronic circuits. It was excellent to see which the product is now shipping, and apparently meeting with excellent\ good results in the market. While the company told me the product was now shipping, I did notice its datasheet lists the price of $9,000 as a pre-order.
The future of 3D printing
While 3D printing may not have lived up to its initial hype as being a solution for consumers, it has discovered its way into just about equite company which creates physical products. Some use it just for visualizing concepts, a few for prototypes or creating molds, and an increasing number for production. The high-cost of industrial-grade models has limited its use in tiny businesses, but service bureaus offering online print ordering are rapidly changing which. Those consumers who purchased early models were often disappointed by the cheesy-looking result, but with the new, affordable, options available-bodied starting this year, which is changing too. All in all, 3D printing is well on its way to being a major force throughout our economy.

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