At this year's EuroMold trade show we were able to check out a number of commercial 3D printer companies. These are the organizations that produce the large scale devices capable of printing in exotic materials such as metal, nylon and even ceramics. They're well beyond the price range of personal 3D printer owners, but the technologies they advance often are reflected in personal equipment in years to come.
In 2012, many of the companies seemed to be focusing on size. We saw many machines introduced with larger build volumes, some quite gigantic, like the massive Objet 1000. But in 2013 we observed a different pattern: efficiency.
We saw machines with similar characteristics, but with smaller a footprint. We saw machines with better use of materials. We saw machines with faster print times. We saw machines with optimized workflows. We saw machines with combinations of the above.
While these developments are obviously welcomed by industry, we're hoping the improvements trickle down to the personal-level machines soon.