The traditional way of purchasing goods might be changing forever, at least in terms of gizmos. MakerBot, manufacturer of most popular 3D printers announced opening of its first store in New York with one goal… to sell 3D printed items.
There's no doubt that 3D printing is slowly but surely, making its way onto mainstream market. Conventional way of making your home or product unique by purchasing items manufactured in Far East, or simply located somewhere else isn't as optimal as 3D printing is. By reducing the distribution of the product to the simple pick-up point, market won't need to pay around 40% in the final price, which typically is the cost of distribution.
In order to challenge those 40% in price, MakerBot announced the unveiling of Replicator 2, its latest three dimensional printer. This announcement was paired with the opening of probably the world's first 3D Printing Store. Located in a good part of Manhattan, New York – the store offers premium quality products printed on the spot. Naturally, it will sell 3D printers as well, but if you have an idea for a 3D object and can't find the product online – just print it out.
Perhaps the key ingredient of this retail story is the Replicator 2 printer itself. We've been hearing quite a lot about the crudeness of 3D printed objects but with Replicator 2 – those comments should be matter of the past. MakerBot claims that Replicator 2 comes with a precision no less than 100 microns. Previous generation part offered precision of 270 microns, which was still too many imperfections to offer smooth surfaces. According to manufacturer claims, you can now play with a ball and it won't stick to your hands, it will be pretty smooth.
This precision enables not just movable objects such as wrenches but rather highly complex movable objects, such as working mechanisms. For example just how precise 3D printer can perform today, take a look at the images above. In case you don't want to build your own object to be printed, you can buy off creations from 3D printing communities such as Thingverse. We have browsed Thingverse for quite some time now, and there are things which are… quite mental. For instance, did you know that you can print out a completely working joystick for my "blast from the past", the Commodore C64? Picture below, and don't say you haven't been warned (do note this object was printed on older 3D printer and doesn't offer the level of finesse Replicator 2 can offer).
All in all, we see 3D printers becoming an ideal companion to replace broken parts, especially ones made out of flimsy plastic and break at the worst moment – instead of buying a part, you'll simply be able to order a printed part offering more rigidness than the original and who knows, perhaps even last longer.