Some time ago Fabbaloo pointed out an interview with Ed Fries, CEO of FigurePrints (a new 3D service that can print out your World of Warcraft character in glorious 3D). Now ComputerWorld takes up the topic, and publishes yet another interview with Ed.
But that’s not the interesting part. Buried within the story is a revealing quote from Cathy Lewis, CEO of DesktopFactory, makers of the first sub-$5,000 consumer-oriented 3D printer. Ms. Lewis says:
that the “cost of goods” to create a Desktop Factory unit will fall to US$500 by late 2011. “So in 2012, I should be able to sell it for US$1,000”. But she also wants to see more low-end software tools become available. She and others point to Google’s SketchUp 3D design package, available as a free download, as an example of what would be needed. Lewis says the Desktop Factory unit may eventually have an interface for SketchUp files. (Professional 3D CAD tools can cost thousands of dollars.)
While we are all impressed with the sub-$5,000 price point, the real action will begin when the sub-$1,000 level is breached. At that point many devices will be sold, perhaps sufficient to begin forming personal manufacturing ecosystems.