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Printers - Consumables

Canalys: "Substantial" Growth for 3D Printers

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Canalys:

Global 3D printer shipments reach "nearly" 133000 units in 2014, Canalys reports-- a "substantial" 68% increase over 2013, with revenues from both printers and associated materials and services growing by 34% to $3.3 billion.

$1bn of such revenues were made in Q4 2014 alone, a quarterly first according to Canalys, while global shipments during the quarter reached 41000 with 24% Q-o-Q growth.

EMEA comes second in terms of market share, as it accounts for 31% 2014 share. On top are the Americas with 42% share, while APAC accounts for 27%.

"We’ve seen the 3D printing industry go from strength to strength in 2014," the analyst says. "As we expected, the holiday season saw the most significant growth, particularly in the consumer segment, with many users buying their first 3D printer. A combination of falling prices, a wider range of technologies on offer and improved printing speeds helped fuel this demand."

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3D Printing, Terminator 2-Style

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3D Printing, Terminator 2-Style

Remember the T-1000 from Terminator 2, the villainous robot able to form itself from liquid metal? Mystery startup Carbon3D emerges from stealth mode to reveal a 3D printing technology inspired by that same sequence.

The technology, dubbed Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP), is stunning to simply to look at-- an arm extracts objects, seemingly fully formed, straight out of a puddle of colourful goo. How does it do it? While regular 3D printers build objects layer-by-layer, CLIP uses light and oxygen to "cure" a photosensitive liquid resin, thus creating objects in a "true" 3D manner.

Essentially, light cures the resin while oxygen keeps it from going solid. A transparent and permeable window controls the exact amount light and oxygen the resin comes in contact with, creating "dead zones" through which printer produces cross sectional images of the object in question.

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IDC: Q4 2014 W. European Printer Shipments Down

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IDC: Q4 2014 W. European Printer Shipments Down

IDC reports the Q4 2014 W. European printer and multifunction (MFP) market shows "slight" shipment declines of 0.8% Y-o-Y, as units reach 6.84 million units due to drops in consumer inkjet shipments.

However the analyst also says revenues are up during the quarter, thanks to growing high speed laser MFP and business inkjet shipments. The same goes for overall 2014, as IDC says the MFP market is recovering with shipments growing by 2.9% as more major segments continue to shift from single-function to multi-function printers.

MFP products account for 82.4% of both Q4 and overall 2014 shipments, with the overall MFP growing by a minimal 0.6% as printers decline by -6.5%. Laser MFPs show most at 8.3% (with 17.3% for colour devices and 1.6% for mono), while the overall A4 laser printer declines by almost -1%, proof of the threat from business inkjets according to the analyst.

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A 3D Printer… For Food

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A 3D Printer… For Food

This day and age, a 3D printer needs to be really special in order to garner descriptions such as "futuristic" or even "unique"-- But the Foodini might actually be that, as it is a 3D printer able to create actual foods.

The work of Barcelona-based Natural Machines, the Foodini uses the same technological principles as regular 3D printers. Obviously, instead of plastic filament it uses raw ingredients (as deployed via stainless steel capsules), which it prints out, layer by layer, until it forms food.

"It's the same technology," the company tells CNN. "In essence, this is a mini food manufacturing plant shrunk down to the size of an oven."

However one factor might make the Foodini unsuitable for the more lazy of customers-- it does not actually cook the food, and one still has to source their own ingredients. However, Natural Machines is working with food manufacturers to create pre-packaged ingredient capsules, as well as a future model able to cook food as well as prepare it.

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Meet the World's Smallest 3D Printer

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Meet the World's Smallest 3D Printer

Another day, another 3D printer on the Kickstarter crowdfunding/preorder platform-- this time it's the turn of the iBox Nano, supposedly the smallest and most affordable 3D printer around.

How small is the iBox Nano? All of 10 x 7 x 20cm. Makers iBox Printers say such dimensions are possible through use of liquid resin instead of plastic filament for 3D printing, which the printer hardens layer by layer via UV LEDs. Further shrinking the printer is construction in laser-cut extruded acrylic (aka Polymethyl metacrylate or PMMA).

The use of UV LEDs also allows the printer to be optionally powered via battery.

The small size obviously restricts the dimensions of printed objects-- but the makers suggest this is not too much of an issue, as 3D printers are generally used to print small objects anyway. In any case printed object resolution is around 328 microns, which is on par with extrusion printers.

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Gartner: 3D Printer Market "At Inflection Point"

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Gartner: 3D Printer Market

According to Gartner the 3D printer market "is at an inflection point", as global shipments are forecast to reach 217350 units in 2015, up from 108151 in 2014, before growing to over 2.3 million by 2018.

"Unit shipment growth rates for 3D printers, which languished in the low single and double digits per year throughout the 30 years since the first 3D printers were invented, are poised to increase dramatically beginning in 2015," the analyst says. "As radical as the forecast numbers may seem, bear in mind that even the 2.3 million shipments that we forecast will be sold in 2018 are a small fraction of the total potential market of consumers, businesses and government organisations worldwide."

Leading the market through 2018 in 3D printing technologies is material extrusion, since it is the technology behind consumer (sub-$1000) 3D printer segment. Driving consumer 3D printer adoption is lower prices, improved performance and expanded global availability.

On the enterprise side, 3D printing viability for prototypes and manufacturing, together with lower costs, improved quality and a wider material range are main market drivers.

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Arduino Takes on 3D Printers

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Arduino Takes on 3D Printers

Arduino is the next company to take on consumer 3D printing with the Materia 101, a collaboration with Sharebot designed for use by beginners, makers and educators.

It features a 140 x 100 x 100mm print bed, allowing for the printing of items around the size of a large tea mug. Printing comes through Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) via PLA filament, although Arduino says Crystal Flex, PLA Thermosense, TPU, PET, PLA Sand and PLA Flex filaments are also usable, if unsupported.

The one factor making the Materia 101 different from similar consumer 3D printers is the Arduino Mega 2560 board at is heart-- being open source, users with the required know-how can modify it and its software software to their hearts' desire.

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Gartner: Mainstream 3D Printing "Will Take Time"

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Gartner: Mainstream 3D Printing

According to Gartner 3D printing might be evolving rapidly but it is still at least 5 to 10 years away from consumer adoption, even as enterprise and medical applications start seeing more compelling use cases.

"Today, approximately 40 manufacturers sell the 3D printers most commonly used in businesses, and over 200 startups worldwide are developing and selling consumer-oriented 3D printers, priced from just a few hundred dollars," the analyst says. "However, even this price is too high for mainstream consumers at this time, despite broad awareness of the technology and considerable media interest."

The Gartner Hype Cycle for 3D printing notes two running themes for the nascent industry-- enterprise and consumer 3D printing are very different from each other, and 3D printing consists of not of one but seven technologies.

First off, consumer and enterprise 3D printing represent different uses and requirements, even if organizations currently make use of "consumer" devices. This demands separate evaluation of the two markets.

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Canalys: 3D Printers Gain Traction

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Canalys: 3D Printers Gain Traction

According to Canalys Q1 2014 3D printer shipments reach 26800 units, with 52% being enterprise purchases while the rest going consumer use in proof of increasingly competitively priced units.

"Businesses from a range of industries have invested in the technology to experiment and test its potential, to expedite design and prototyping processes, or to enable local customised manufacturing," the analyst says. ‘While enterprise engagement will continue to grow, it looks to be the consumer space that will drive shipments in the near future."

Canalys says 67% of 3D printers shipped in Q1 2014 cost below $10000 pre-tax, and a number of basic printers come at sub-$1000 and even sub-$500 prices. Such competitive pressures will only cause prices to fall further, making the technology more affordable to businesses and consumers alike.

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