Entries in europe (57)
by General Fabb
First was MakerBot's single retail store experiment in downtown NYC, then 3D Systems struck a deal with Staples to offer the Cube 3D printer in all Staples stores. Now we see another retail example: UK electronics retailer Maplin now carries a 3D printer kit, the Velleman K8200.
We'll look at the Velleman another day, but for now it's most interesting to see the rapid spread of 3D printing to more retail environments. With each deal, 3D printing becomes increasingly accessible to more people. Between Staples and Maplins there are thousands of stores and tens of millions of people who, in theory, could simply walk into a neighborhood shop and pick up a 3D printer at the low price of £699.99 (USD$1046).
One catch with Maplin's offering: the K8200 is a kit. Assembling a complex 3D printer is a task well beyond most of the general public, but perhaps Maplin knows something we don't. Regardless of the difficulty, Maplin seems to be sold out at this time.
Observation: in Maplin's online listing for the K8200 there is a tab for "Related Items". Within it you'll see a couple of spools of filament, very appropriate. But you'll also see a couple of All-In-One 2D paper printers.
Retail hasn't quite caught up to 3D printing yet.
UK Education Secretary Michael Gove announced England's schools will use a new "national curriculum" commencing in September 2014. While the new curriculum contains a variety of improvements, there is a rather interesting inclusion: exposure and basic training on the use of advanced technologies such as robotics and 3D printing.
This implies each UK school (at least the public ones) will effectively be required to provide a 3D printer, associated software and training to children as young as five years old.
Big implications arise from this policy change.
First, someone is going to sell an awful lot of inexpensive 3D printers. There are approximately 17,000 primary schools in England alone, and if each required at least one 3D printer, well, you get the picture. In fact, it's a lot more than that. 3D printers are notorious for their lengthy operating times. This means schools will require multiple machines to enable all students access. There could be as many as 100,000 3D printer sales or more as a result of the new curriculum. Expect sales people to swarm school administrators soon.
Secondly, this policy change means virtually all children in England will be well versed on the concepts of making and design. These empowered and confident will age into adolescents and eventually adults where their early experience with 3D printing will generate ideas, companies and concepts we can only dream of today.
Well done, England!
Via The Daily Mail
In a recently announced partnership, the Institute of Photonics at the University of Eastern Finland (UEF) and Dutch company LUXeXceL will partner together to create a photonic 3D printer.
Started only a few shorts days ago, the UEF’s Institute of Phototonics has hit the ground running, grabbing its first large industrial partnership within a week of its opening. It’s partnership with optical rapid prototyping firm LUXeXceL will leverage the company’s Printoptical Technology, a method for printing optical quality components that don’t require post processing.
According to LUXeXceL their Printoptical systems uses a modified wide format industrial printer to deposit droplets of a UV-curable polymer onto the print surface. Once deposited a UV-lamp mounted inside the print head immediately cures the polymer.
Read More at ENGINEERING.com
We've learned of a 3D print service based in Spain: Fabber.cc. This service provides basic 3D printing services, providing prints in ABS or PLA plastic.
The service doesn't have an interactive pricing mechanism, but you can send in your 3D model and receive a quote for the work.
This service seems to follow a pattern we've seen lately: small regional 3D print services and very large international services. We're not sure how the small services will survive when competing with the Big Guys, but perhaps it's because of their ability to fit into niche cultural and linguistic markets.
Via Fabber.cc (en español / en français)
We've just discovered that MakerBot has yet another reseller, this time in Spain. Ultra-Lab sells the full line of MakerBot devices, including the Replicator Dual Extruder, Replicator 2 and the latest model, the Replicator 2X.
In addition to MakerBot products, we understand that Ultra-Lab also sells plastic filament for the printers, electronics kits, e-textiles, games, components and related items.
Via Ultra-Lab (en español)
We've previously seen such mainstream publications as The Economist, Forbes and The Atlantic bring 3D printing to the attention of their readers. Now Der Spiegel has done the same with a new article providing an overview of the 3D printing space.
As one might expect, Der Spiegel provides focus on several German 3D printing companies, notably EOS and Concept Laser, both of which we visited at the recent Euromold show in Frankfurt.
Der Spiegel proposes dramatic improvements in manufacturing from 3D printing, as "Considerably fewer production steps, fewer tools needed and lower materials costs all spell enormous cost savings". Most importantly, they say:
Companies will no longer be tied to the economies of scale that make mass production necessary for reducing costs. Even small production batches can be profitable. More innovative products can be brought onto the market, since this method makes it easy to try out new ideas cheaply.
That's why we're so interested in 3D printing: Innovation will be unleashed.
Via Der Spiegel (in English)
Are you visiting Euromold this week? We are! Euromold is the "World Fair for Moldmaking and Tooling, Design and Application Development", where we're likely to see the announcement of several new 3D printers from major manufacturers.
If you're in Frankfurt and would like to show us something interesting or have a chat, feel free to give us a shout at email@example.com or on Twitter via @fabbaloo.
See you there!
On the heels of a story we reported last week, the Technology Strategy Board, an advisory group to the UK’s Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, has announced it will invest £7 million to help spur innovation in additive manufacturing.
MP David Willet’s had this to say about the program, “3D printing technologies offer huge potential for UK businesses to compete successfully by embracing radically different manufacturing techniques that could be applied across a wide variety of global market sectors, from aerospace to jewellery.”
Read More at Engineering.com
Shortly after opening its own dedicated retail shop in New York, MakerBot announced it's pursuing retail arrangements in France. They've partnered with le FabShop to resell all current MakerBot products, including their most recent device, the Replicator 2.
Le FabShop, a French makerspace based in Brittany, does not have a physical retail store, but instead will sell MakerBot equipment through their online shop, le FabStore. Their intent is to resell MakerBots throughout France from their location some four hours west of Paris.
Prices seem to be slightly higher than buying directly from MakerBot, but shipping (at least to France) would obviously be somewhat cheaper.
Does this indicate a new strategy for MakerBot? It's an extension; MakerBot has previously experimented with resellers in the NYC area, but this is a bit farther away. Local resellers are a relatively quick method for a manufacturer to extend its presence. We suspect we might see more resellers appearing in more countries soon, particularly if le FabShop is successful.
Via le FabShop (en français)
We just noticed a business selling 3D printers in Switzerland. Zurich-based 3D-Model (German: 3D Drucker kaufen) appears to resell a variety of 3D Systems gear, including not only the large commercial units such as the Projet, but also 3D Systems' personal 3D printer line, Bits From Bytes.
The company also offers 3D print services, presumably either using their own gear or subbing it out to one of 3D Systems' numerous printing installations.
If you're located in Switzerland you might want to check them out.