Two companies at the 2011 CES are featuring 3D printing, but they are most definitely not talking about the same thing. I first spotted MakerBot’s 3D printers—they build objects from plastic according to instructions you send them from your computer via a USB cable or store on a memory card. At $1225 each, they are vastly cheaper than the hundred-thousand-dollar commercial 3D printers that have been available for several years; the only catch—you have to build the printers yourself, your $1225 just gets you a kit, you have to put the circuit boards and motors together yourself.
I hadn’t walked very far before I saw another sign advertising 3D printing; did MakerBot have competition? Not exactly. Instead, Kodak is including 3D printing software with its new printers. Take a picture with a regular camera, shift a little bit to the side and shoot again, and it prints out as a 3D image; a modern twist on the stereopticon.
For more gadget news, check out our complete coverage of the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show.
Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.