You know that feeling when you like an unknown band; telling all your mates about how cool they are and how massive they’ll become but nobody listens, only for them to appear on a trendy advert and all of a sudden everybody likes them and nobody remembers your loved them first? Well, 3D printing feels like that right now.
This has been a hectic week to be involved in 3D printing; we’ve had probably one of the biggest stories in recent memory as Stratasys acquired the world’s leading desktop manufacturer, MakerBot. At the same time 3D printing has ceased seeping into the public consciousness and has smashed down the walls, grasping a loudspeaker, announcing to the world that it has, indeed, arrived.
I can’t recall a week where there has been this much 3D printing coverage in the mainstream media. Take a quick glance on the leading online British Newspaper site the Daily Mail, you’ll see seven stories in the last seven days, BBC’s story on the big merger was the most shared technology story, it’s all over the Economist and The Financial Times are even snaking their way in.
The retailers are at it to, making it all widely available, what with Amazon, Tesco and now Maplin getting a slice of the 3D printing pie. Maplin have even gone as far as dedicating a lead story on their front-page carousel to 3D printing.
Incidentally the printer Maplin are advertising, Velleman K8200, is the first 3D printer from Vellemen who are a well-established electronics company, another on the bandwagon that is then, we're going to have to get more horses to pull this thing.
Maplin have acquired the rights to distribute the Velleman K8200 in the UK. Retailing at £699, the kit doesn’t come assembled, this is far from the plug and play printability that the consensus believe the public want. There’s no mention of the usual printer specifications, what software it uses or any finer details that the savvier printer wants to know.
There's absolutely no doubting there'll be more retail giants on the 3D printing scene, Curry's will undoubtedly be next offering in-store demos and shoving a ten year warranty down your throat.
Does this sudden leap into the mainstream for 3D printing mean the technology has arrived? Or is this just cashing in while a fad is at the top of its hype-cycle? Either way it feels just like the time I discovered Arctic Monkeys before everyone else and all of a sudden they were topping the charts.