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Printers - Consumables

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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Will.i.am and Coca-Cola Takes on 3D Printer

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Will.i.am and Coca-Cola Takes on 3D Printer

Another contender enters the increasingly crowded consumer 3D printer arena-- this time it's Black Eyed Peas star turned tech entrepreneur Will.i.am and Coca-Cola with the Ekocycle Cube.

The Ekocycle Cube is based on the Cube 3 from 3D Systems, a 3D printer maker counting Will.i.am as CCO. The Coca-Cola involvement comes in the print filament cartridges, which the company says contain around 25% of "post-consumer recycled materials," with an average of around 3 bottles per cartridge.

"We will make it cool to recycle, and we will make it cool to make products using recycled materials," Will.i.am says. "This is the beginning of a more sustainable 3D-printed lifestyle. Waste is only waste if we waste it."

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The New Matter 3D Printer

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The New Matter 3D Printer

It seems a week can't pass by without a story involving an affordable consumer 3D printer, and won't you know it here's another one-- the New Matter MOD-t, a device promising "affordable and easy" 3D printing.

Just launched as an Indiegogo crowdfunding/preorder campaign, the MOD-t differs from similar printers (such as the M3D Micro or MakerBot Replicator Mini Compact) in being a white box holding a motorised print bed, over which a printhead hovers atop a pair of metal rods.

New Matter says this design features "dramatically" fewer parts, allowing for an "ingenious" 2-axis motion system-- essentially the printed moves from side to side while the printhead moves up and down, eliminating the need for a gantry system or elaborate calibration and bringing down production costs.

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