3D printing is just one of those things which seem like its taking directly from a Sci-Fi movie, even when you’re watching it unfold right before your eyes, it’s something that is still hard to believe still difficult to understand. But it seems like 2013 will prove itself to be the year of the 3D printers. They were more companies at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2013 promoting consumer versions of the technology than ever before. And even MakerBot, the Brooklyn-based company which really kicked 3D printing into high gear unvalued their newest offering with the Replicator 2X, a bigger beefier version to the Replicator 2, more of a big boy version of its previous devices that were aimed more at tinkerers than serious designers, and that’s reflected in the $2,199 price.
But just what could I use a 3D printer for you may ask, well besides artiest and architects who would get to print uber cool renditions of there is not as useful as your everyday LaserJet. How Nokia thought it would be an awesome idea (and indeed it was) to add removable shells to its Lumia 820 Windows Phone. And while there will be companies out there making custom designs there’s usually a waiting period, and some don’t ever fit right. To this effect Nokia released a “3D-printing Development Kit” with all the documentation you’ll need to create a custom backing for yourself. No more cropping and uploading pictures to websites, only to then have to wait four to six weeks for your case.
If you have access to a 3D printer the wait time for getting your new custom case just went from a few weeks to a few minutes. But if that wasn’t crazy enough Nike has gone more than a few steps further with its latest innovation. Believe it or not Nike has fired the shoe maker’s elves and have bought themselves one mean Swoosh printing 3D printer, and their newest shoe the Vapor Laser Talon, will pretty much be printed and not stitched. The boot was created using Selective Laser Sintering, which unlike MakerBot’s Replicators uses high powered lasers to fuse plastic together. This new technology not only allows Nike to produce a shoe that would be otherwise impossible for the elves, it allows them to produce them in less than a quarter of the time, With no release date for the new line as yet one can only imagine what they will feel and look like, and how the great players will put this new tech to good use.