CES 2011: There's 3D Printing... And Then There's 3D Printing

DIY'ers can build a printer of that creates plastic three-dimensional objects, while the not-so-crafty can get 3D photo prints from an ordinary digital camera


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.

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