Printing Keychains and Shower Heads: 3-D Printing Goes Beyond the Lab

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One of the cheapest and simplest non-assembled 3-D printers is made by Printrbot and costs just $299. But Pearce says if you have trouble hooking up a normal 2-D printer, it's probably best to buy one that has already been assembled. Printrbot sells those for $399. Their website provides instructions and video tutorials for assembly.

MakerBot, based in Brooklyn, New York is one of the biggest 3D printer companies and has been producing 3D printers since 2009. They have sold 22,000 units. Their printers sell from $2,199. One of their biggest competitors is Type A Machines.

Espen Sivertsen, COO of Type A Machines, says 3D printing technology is growing very quickly and will become even more affordable and user-friendly in the next couple of years. His company sells 3D printers for just under $1,700. The instructions fit on a single 8.5 by 11 sheet of paper.

"If you work with your hands, using things like power tools, a 3D printer is fairly easy to pick up," Sivertsen said. "It's like driving a car. A bit of a learning curve at first but once you get it, it's not hard."

As of now, plastic is the most common material used, but Sivertsen says by the end of the year, a whole range of materials will likely be available. He also predicts people will be able to walk into local hardware stores and get 3D printed parts.

"The thing that makes me really excited about 3D printing is it's an extension of your imagination," Sivertsen said. "You can get some interesting developments of objects that weren't possible before."

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