This week is CES week, where the world shows off their new products, including, it turns out, many 3D printers.
Our team is attending the annual Consumer Electronics Show once again in an attempt to visit with multiple manufacturers and see new equipment. Most of them, as you might imagine, are makers of desktop 3D printers designed for hobbyist, small professional office or educational use. You won’t find much large industrial equipment at a consumer show.
The progress of 3D printing at CES has been interesting to follow. In 2010, soon after the expiration of key 3D printing patents, several companies developed rudimentary inexpensive desktop 3D printing equipment. To promote these new products – and they were at the time an entirely new concept to the public – some companies, most notably MakerBot and 3D Systems, decided to do significant marketing at CES.
For a few years, MakerBot made a point of announcing new models at the event, many of which I was present to witness. However, in their gradual shift away from consumers, MakerBot’s presence at the event has shifted: from a tiny table to a gigantic, two-story booth, to a smaller booth this year. But nevertheless their presence, and that of several others, is changed this year.
Another very notable change is the complete lack of presence by 3D Systems, who for the past four years used CES as the platform to launch the new products. One year they announced almost a dozen new products. However, at least some of the products shown at prior events were not real: the elusive CubeJet was shown at at THREE consecutive CES shows and has yet to be actually released. I don’t think it ever will be, as they’ve since shifted their focus entirely away from consumer-related products.
But aside from the “expected” things at such a show, there are always wonderful discoveries to be made. Last year we accidentally encountered amazing Gizmo 3D Printers hidden in a tiny stall in the basement “startup ghetto” of CES, for example. We’re hoping to find more such discoveries this year.
While our schedule will be quite busy we do wish to meet with any readers or vendors that happen to be at the show this week. Please give us a shout here to contact us.