In recent weeks I have become a little obsessed with 3D printer technology and not because I am keen to start selling the cartridges. The whole thing started when I cam across a video showing tiny figurines being made for tourists in the middle of the street using a 3D printer and three hacked Xbox Kinects:
Be Your Own Souvenir! from blablabLAB on Vimeo.
Admittedly the resolution is a little low and the printing process is a little slow at present but it got me so excited about possible applications of the technology outside of the manufacturing industry.
When I took a closer look I discovered many examples of this technology having been used to create bespoke products for quite some time. The most notable example to me being FigurePrints who seem to have started out producing busts and figurines of Warcraft characters for hardcore gamers but have recently opened a second online store that allows the customisation and purchasing of figures based upon Xbox Live avatars. To me this demonstrates quite a shift in target audience as the technology becomes more mainstream.
I feel we are a few years off seeing 3D printer in our branch of Staples but I am certain this technology will continue to grow and develop and will be very interested to see what budding entrepreneurs will come up with. i am personally looking forward to the day when I can go to a photographer with the wife and kids and come home with a freestanding 3D family portrait to proudly display on my mantle.