Gift for the the plastic widget maker – or breaker – who has (almost) everything

Three-dimensional printers – with their up-to-$100,000 price tags – have been a part of industrial design shops for more than a decade. Now Pasadena-based Desktop Factory is trying to bring these printers to the desktop.

The $5,000 desktop device, handy not only in design but also for those of us with a propensity for losing and/or breaking remote control battery covers and the like, is expected to be available sometime this year.

“We are Easy-Bake Ovening a 3-D model,” Bill Gross, chairman of IdeaLab – which launched Desktop Factory – told the New York Times. “The really powerful thing about this idea is that the fundamental engineering allows us to make it for $300 in materials.”

Desktop Factory isn’t the only horse in the 3D desktop printer race, and the competition could drive prices to less than $2,000 in as little as three years.

 
 

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  • Jon Webb

    What is the use of these 3D printers? I’ve seen them at trade shows for years and years, and I have a very hard time thinking of a use other than plastic model-making. Which is cute, and probably useful for some people, but not much use at home.
    Since this story broke I’ve been looking at objects around the home and trying to decide whether I could make them with a 3D printer. It’s really hard to come up with things that would really work. Anything electronic — no. Anything with metal, glass, paper — no. The range of plastics supported by any one device would be limited, and I don’t think they’re planning to support color. So what could you make with them? Even models would not be good without color. The standard example I’ve heard is making battery covers for remote controls. This depends on the manufacturer posting a design for the cover that you can download, which I think they would not be inclined to do, since they’d rather sell you one. And I’m not sure the little plastic spring that keeps the battery cover closed would work with whatever plastic is in the thing. Plus, I don’t know about you, but I’m always losing the remote control itself, which these things couldn’t make, not the battery cover. If I lose the battery cover, I just use duct tape, which is a lot more useful and cheaper.
    Go ahead, imagine you have one of these things. Try and think of something you’ll actually use that you could make with it. Go ahead, try.

 
 
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