I remember seeing my first 3D printer at SIGGRAPH in 2002 and thinking to myself “Holy crap, this is going to be huge”. The ability to simply “print out” digitally designed objects in a single pass is already a clear boon to prototyping & manufacturing, but it’s still going to be a while before we have 3d printers atop every desk, ready to create for us whatever part, toy, or mug that we decide to download or create.
However, there are now two companies that are bridging the gap from “3D printing? What’s that?” to a fabricator in every home: Shapeways and Sculpteo allow users to upload virtual objects and order them as physical 3D objects. Additionally, both sites allow modelers to upload & sell their creations to be printed by others. Sculpteo is currently limited to white plastic and a color compound, while Shapeways adds the ability to print in glass and metal, such as the octopus ring on the right.
So to all you modelers out there: Start sellin your models as 3D objects for the world to enjoy…and feel free to send a print to me if you actually start makin some bucks doing this. 😉