3D printing gets social: New Cubify printer allows you to create, upload and …

By
Eddie Wrenn

04:36 EST, 7 May 2012

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10:55 EST, 7 May 2012

These objects may look tacky, plastic souvenirs the the kind you might buy from street stalls on your summer holidays.

But look closer at the technology behind them, and you realise you are looking at technology would could potentially shake up the way we live.

These products are the outcome of home 3D printers, and as the technology finds itself creeping into our homes, they could provide instant items for you – for instance cutlery and cups, door handles, toys – indeed, almost anything of any shape.

The next 3D printer to launch is called Cubify, which brings something new and exciting to the market –  the ability to create, upload, and then sell your own inventions.

Output: The technology is still in its infancy, but the potential is massive, with intricate designs already possible

Output: The technology is still in its infancy, but the potential is massive, with intricate designs on Cubify already possible

The Cubify shop: The future of purchasing objects?

The Cubify shop: The future of purchasing objects?

The technology is still in many ways in its infancy – however viewed from the other angle, the technology has come on in leaps and bounds in the last three to four years.

Current printers like Cubify – which hits the market later this month – can already design intricate patterns, using computer programs to create a 3D model of your item, which you then send to the printer just as you would normally print a document.

Templates can be downloaded from websites, so that in the same way you might bright browse Amazon for an e-book, or a movie rental service for a film, you can choose to search for 3D templates like ‘spoons’, then choose the design you want, and then hit print with a flourish and watch the item build itself in front of your eyes.

The printer: You can send your designs wirelessly from your PC direct to the printer, and it will appear like magic

The printer: You can send your designs wirelessly from your PC direct to the printer, and it will appear like magic

As more users become more adept at using Cubify, more elaborate and niche designs will come out – so for instance if you lose the battery cover for your TV’s remote control, or for your mobile phone, search the website and the odds are someone has designed one for you.

Cubify’s social angle is one of the interesting off-shoots of the technology.

The company states: ‘We believe a new art form is emerging where all things in 3D will
merge.

‘New tools, which enable digital creation, such as 3D scanning, 3D
printing and countless others, are enabling future artists to express
themselves in 3D like never before.

‘We call them Cubify Artists and Cubify is their
playground to create, monetize and share their ideas with others.’

Users
can create a free account, upload their designs, gove them description
and a selling price, and keep sixty per cent of the revenue, following a
similar model to writers self-pnblishing on Amazon or musicians
self-publishing to iTunes.

Items already uploaded include an iPhone case for $10, a seat-belt style clasp for $5, hairbrushes for $5, a pair of high-heel shoes for $, and light-switches for $15.

Clasps and light-switches are some of the first items available on Cubify

Clasps and light-switches are some of the first items available on Cubify

Virtual DIY: Clasps and light-switches are some of the first items available on Cubify

The printers work by building up tiny, millimetre-thick sheets of plastic according to the template.

In the labs, the technology is getting even better: The racing car below is just 0.028cm across – or to put it another way, about the size of the full stop at the end of this word.

While
the domestic technology is currently limited to plastic items, when
complex materials like wires and metals can be built, we could end up
downloading many of the items we found in our house rather than making
trips into town or waiting on the snail mail.

Cubify goes on sale in the U.S. on May 25th for $1,299, and can be shipped to Europe.

Tiny but perfectly formed: The F1 nano-car was created by the Vienna Institute of Technology in a record-breaking four minutes

Tiny detail: The F1 nano-car was created by the Vienna Institute of Technology in a record-breaking four minutes

Here’s what other readers have said. Why not add your thoughts,
or debate this issue live on our message boards.

The comments below have not been moderated.

Avana beach, what drugs have you taken this weekend? – genee , bassingbourn, 07/5/2012 14:44. To be precise, other than a smattering of caffeine in a few cups of coffee, none. But don’t you remember those absolutely marvellous developments that were the computer, the internet, and social media? Or are you maybe not old enough? Or perhaps you just have a short, and possibly pliable, memory? Alternatively, maybe you just don’t undserstand very much of anything.

$1300 initial investment for the printer; only a fool would think it’s to be used only one to “make a small item,” and then abandoned.
The Altair, arguably the first mainstream personal computer, sold in kit for for $397 in 1975. That’s over $1590 in 2010 dollars. And the Altair was sold as a kit, not assembled, and not programmed.
I doubt anyone would argue that it was not the beginning of a successful industry.

$1300 and half an hour to make a small item, the pound shop isn’t dead quite yet. Pity, as I would like to repair busted stuff instead of throwing.

Avana beach, what drugs have you taken this weekend?

I’ll give it about two years, if even that, until you are writing an article on behalf of those brought up in Arnos Grove, based on the mythical mores of those who dwell in Arnos Grove, for the delectation and prurience of the outraged of Arnos Grove, as to why these are inventions of the devil and should be banned

This is great news. Those 3D printing devices would certainly help people with creative abilities to have a small business in an epoch in which independent work is increasingly difficult to find.

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