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Tesco: 3D Printing Will Come To Supermarkets 'Within a Few Years'

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the yes-i'd-like-to-print-4,000-lego-bricks-please dept.

Businesses 81

TinTops writes "The IT chief of supermarket giant Tesco has said he believes there is a market for 3D printing in large supermarkets, and that it will be 'good for customers.' Mike McNamara told V3: 'I think it will help Tesco as a company, I don't think it will be a bad thing. It'll be a great thing for customers, we'll have 3D printing in our stores. As retailers you'll always adapt. So new things come along — the internet came along, we adapted to that one. We kind of have the internet version two with smartphones now, which has been a bigger impact than the wired internet, we'll adapt to that, we'll adapt to 3D printing, we'll adapt to RFID. You live, you change.' McNamara thinks 3D printers will be commonplace in stores before they start showing up in significant numbers at people's homes. This could 'give shoppers a new reason to visit shops for quick access to niche items.'"

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The Cake: Not A Lie (4, Informative)

Guano_Jim (157555) | about a year ago | (#44972451)

I could see cake decorations being printed on-demand in your local supermarket. Dad likes Game of Thrones? Print him a cyvasse set [thingiverse.com] and put it on his birthday cake.

3d printing with sugar [the-sugar-lab.com] is well on its way to becoming a mature technology already, so yeah, a few years and I wouldn't be surprised to see it at the bakery.

Re:The Cake: Not A Lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44972665)

2-d printing for cake is already a thing. You can bring a digital photo in and it can be on a cake in a few hours as a rush order, though your cake decorator will appreciate it if you give a few days for the order. 3-d will probably follow soon enough.

Re:The Cake: Not A Lie (2)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44972877)

Yes, but what about the things actually purchased at a supermarket?

Can you print me up a dozen eggs, quart of milk, breakfast sausages, toast and hash-browns? Bottle of wine? Chicken?

Admittedly some kitchen items, cups, saucers, various utensils, might be printable, but what's the point of that.?

Seems to me this technology would be more appropriate in a hardware store, so you could get a replacement left handed widget framis for you obsolete spoze-a-tron in-sink disposal on a Saturday afternoon.

Re:The Cake: Not A Lie (1)

John Guilt (464909) | about a year ago | (#44972945)

No, I'm pretty sure that food has been printed---maybe not that interesting in texture, yet, but (by an amazing coincidence) anything capable of printing replacements for living tissue should be capable of printing food.

Re:The Cake: Not A Lie (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44973173)

Someone printed meat [engineering.com] , I believe. But then they started with meat cells to begin with. So basically this would not solve the production problems of meat, but would allow you slurry the whole cow in the slaughter house and pipe it to the grocery store. Whole new meaning for the term "meat pipe."

Re:The Cake: Not A Lie (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44973279)

"meat pipe."

Man, I sure am glad I had my lunch before reading this thread...

Re:The Cake: Not A Lie (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about a year ago | (#44975171)

Do not worry, I'm sure that store meat will be mostly soya as usual!

Re:The Cake: Not A Lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44974501)

Not really. For example an apple is basically a collection of cell walls with stuff inside them. If your printer could make a bunch of cell walls filled with a mixture that is similar to what's inside an apple cell, the product would probably be quite apple-like. But it would be much harder to actually produce apple cells from scratch with working DNA, organelles, etc.

Re:The Cake: Not A Lie (1)

xmousex (661995) | about a year ago | (#44973085)

um
eggs? toast? chicken? wine? that sounds like actual food items

for profitable grocery items that actual move you need to follow the nearest child to their favorite section where capn crunch, eggos, pop tarts, fruit rollups and oreos live. you look at all that crap and tell me it cant just be printed on demand to the same effect.

Re:The Cake: Not A Lie (1)

xmousex (661995) | about a year ago | (#44973127)

and in most cases, all printed from the same ink...

Re:The Cake: Not A Lie (1, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | about a year ago | (#44973221)

Just so we are clear here...

Much of the rest of the world thinks it's odd that in the U.S. you can go to a single store and buy a shotgun with ammo, oil for your car, and a loaf of bread. Walmart.

Much of the rest of the world has modeled their supermarkets on the U.S. model. Where you can buy that loaf of bread, a prepaid cellphone, an HDTV, and a paperback book. Oh, and a gift card for iTunes. Fry's, etc.

This is undoubtedly explored further on in this discussion, but I can foresee getting coupons for trinkets or even useful swag that I can present when I buy something, and come back to pick up my freshly-printed object. After snarfing up some Pringles speakers, this doesn't seem very far-fetched at all.

Hardware stores had better get on that 3FD printing thing pretty quick though, cause when Walmart and Staples own it, Home depot will be right there and Ace Hardware will be left out. Mostly.

Speaking of Ace, my local Ace is next door to an R/C hobby shop. THAT is a place that should be printing out custom gears and stuff, and a Prusa is mechanically similar to an R/C car in more ways than one. those guys should grok that stuff immediately and start cranking out parts people didn't know they wanted. Like tomorrow.

Re:The Cake: Not A Lie (1, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44973315)

Actually, no, the rest of the world does not think it is odd to find Walmart, Kmart, Fred Meyer, or similar types of stores. Or shoppers centers, or malls.

They have them too. Sometimes the same brands, sometimes homegrown brands.

You should have listened to Putin when he bitch slapped Obama : the US is not an exceptional country.

Re:The Cake: Not A Lie (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about a year ago | (#44973703)

I didn't write 'the rest of the world'. I wrote 'much of the rest of the world'.

Subtle, I know. But you can recognize it when it's pointed out, right?

Re:The Cake: Not A Lie (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44974073)

Which Much were you referring to?
Antarctica?

Did you happen to see coverage of the Mall attack in Kenya? Looks just about like malls near me.
Howbout Tesco [wikipedia.org] , the chain featured in this story?
Maybe Brazil [thebrazilbusiness.com] ? Or South America [wikipedia.org] in general?

I'm at a loss to find many countries, with the possible exception of Cuba and North Korea that is unfamiliar with the concept
of supermarkets, malls, and shopping centers.

Re: The Cake: Not A Lie (2)

rickb928 (945187) | about a year ago | (#44975435)

People in Germany think it's weird to buy a shotgun and bread in the same store.

There are other examples. Not about having modern supermarkets or such, just the cultural differences about certain goods and services and how they are usually acquired.

We are different. Just like every other place is.

Re: The Cake: Not A Lie (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44975619)

People in Germany think it's weird to buy a shotgun and bread in the same store.

You speak for all of them do you?

Re: The Cake: Not A Lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44977201)

Some people in the US think it's weird to buy a shotgun and bread in the same store too. None of the grocery stores close to me sell shotguns(or TVs or pre-paid cell phones for that matter). Walmart may but there aren't any particularly close.

Re:The Cake: Not A Lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44974583)

Or your Ace Hardware is actually closer to a general store. I know a rural Ace that has clothes, home goods, furniture, cleaning supplies, Outdoor gear, and firearms, as well as tools, lumber, and other hardware store staples. Place closes at noon on saturdays, and from 6AM till then is packed by half the town. A 3d Printer in a place like that would be tremendously useful for printing in steel an alternator bracket for a boat, or a new shifter shaft for an ATV.

Re:The Cake: Not A Lie (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about a year ago | (#44973233)

I consider it the evolution of the photo counter. Instead of dropping off your film canister you drop off your plans and pick up your finished chunk of plastic when it's done.

Re:The Cake: Not A Lie (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44973339)

Drop off?

How very quaint.

Re:The Cake: Not A Lie (1)

compro01 (777531) | about a year ago | (#44973807)

What would you prefer? DropBox off?

Re:The Cake: Not A Lie (1)

timeOday (582209) | about a year ago | (#44973341)

Surely the bigger impact would be allowing Tesco to expand its offerings, so they can compete for more of the business for which people are currently willing to make extra trips to other places.

That is, when/if 3d printing becomes actually practical. Parts from CNC milling machines are still made by one producer in a particular, and shipped from there, and there's no thriving mass market for designs; not a happy precedent for 3d printing.

Re:The Cake: Not A Lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44976277)

Surely the bigger impact would be allowing Tesco...

Why do you think Tesco aren't "allowed"?

Re:The Cake: Not A Lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44985647)

Because he speaks English. You don't, nigger.

I can't wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44972455)

I can't wait until Internet version 3.

The perfect apple! (1)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about a year ago | (#44972461)

j/k, I think printing food at the grocery store might be a little farther off than this. However, I am trying to think of what would advantage there would be at the grocery store waiting for your chosen object to be printed, rather than what is going on now with low price-per-unit injection molded mass production. I'm sure there is something, many somethings out there suitable for this, I am just having a hard time figuring out what they are.

Re:The perfect apple! (3, Insightful)

Kardos (1348077) | about a year ago | (#44972521)

It'll be akin to existing photo printing at supermarkets. Send your design from home, it'll be ready in a number of hours. It'll appeal to the same people who don't want to buy a decent quality colour printer, and photo paper, and ink, etc to print their own photos.

People will print things that aren't already mass-produced and available at the dollar store next door. Vacuum cleaner part broke? I'll get one 3D printed in 2 hours rather than send $50 to the manufacturer and wait for it to ship, if it still exists.

Re:The perfect apple! (1)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about a year ago | (#44972545)

That idea makes good sense. I keep forgetting (unless I am in one) that grocery stores of today are more like mini-malls with the variety that they provide to the consumer.

Re:The perfect apple! (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about a year ago | (#44972713)

My thoughts exactly. Also a unless you are printing a lot of things all the time is is much more effective to just use the setup at the supermarket than it is to have your own.

Re:The perfect apple! (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44972733)

It'll appeal to the same people who don't want to buy a decent quality colour printer, and photo paper, and ink, etc to print their own photos.

You know, I've come to the conclusion that there very little benefit in printing your own pictures.

By the time you pay the consumables, the photo place can print your digital pics for a fraction of what you pay to own and use a colour printer.

I did it for a while, but the cost of ink and paper made me realize that if these guys will do it for a few pennies/photo, there's no point in even owning that printer. Which is why I only have a laser printer in the house these days.

Hell, the wife is of the opinion it's cheaper to throw out the printer instead of getting a new toner cartridge, since the cartridge often costs what the printer did and the printer comes with one. :-P

Re:The perfect apple! (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about a year ago | (#44973141)

Hell, the wife is of the opinion it's cheaper to throw out the printer instead of getting a new toner cartridge, since the cartridge often costs what the printer did and the printer comes with one. :-P

Is she aware that new printers often come with "starter" cartridges that have less toner in them than the "standard" cartridge does.

Re:The perfect apple! (1)

Salgak1 (20136) | about a year ago | (#44972793)

That, however, assumes the ability of the Grocery-store printer to handle a wide variety of plastics. Some parts have fairly exacting specs for strenghth, etc. I see INDUSTRIAL printers with multiple types of feedstock [stratasys.com] , but not really sure that a Consumer-access printer will have that at a reasonable cost in the next few years. . .

Re:The perfect apple! (2)

John Guilt (464909) | about a year ago | (#44973183)

Very insightful, using that term in the usual sense of 'I was going to say that, damn your eyes.'

I would point out as well that regardless of how good home printers get, commercial centres such as supermarkets will always be able to afford better, or at least more full-featured, ones---it's quite possible that few households will need the ability to print high-quality aluminium things (e.g., jaw-bones or derailleurs) on a regular basis.

My local photo shop still does better than any colour printer we could well afford can do. (It looks like a photo shop---I can tell by some of the sales-people and customers, and having see quite a few shops in my time.)

Re:The perfect apple! (1)

idontgno (624372) | about a year ago | (#44972587)

A previous poster pointed out that supermarket bakeries custom-fabbing decorative elements is one possibility. The often work to-order, and don't usually have the customer waiting around for a custom cake to be finished, so 3d printing sugar or plastic decorative gew-gaws isn't much different than inkjet printing grandma's and grandpa's wedding picture onto starch film, which is done all the time right now.

I suspect that's where 3d printing will come into its own in this arena: processes that already offer custom creation, such as deli and bakery.

Most stuff will still be bulk, and as you say, it might be wiser and cheaper for the bakery to buy a few hundred pre-made Dora the Explora cupcake decoration thingies and keep 'em in stock, rather than custom-forming each one.

(My IP paranoia makes me think unless there's a pretty strong licensing regime available, a supermarket could get in trouble for printing some media property stuff without rights-holder permissions, just because Soccer Mom orders bootleg Spiderman stuff for Billy's 6th birthday cake.)

Re:The perfect apple! (1)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about a year ago | (#44972631)

Well, you guys tossed the idea to my head of maybe customer provided art formed in sugar and applied to the cake, even a picture or similar. I knew there must be some market for this, I was just having an imagination stall.

Sucroknob! No, Saccharocock. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#44975893)

Admit it. You're thinking of a dildo, aren't you?

Re:The perfect apple! (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#44972673)

Exactly. The model would have to be "come back later in a couple hours". And unfortunately it would be self-defeating. If it was successful then it would have longer wait times because the printer would be busy. Of course that's easily solved with more printers, but at one point you stop being a supermarket that offers printing and become a printer that stocks supermarket goods...

It would have to be big or specialized stuff (2)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44972485)

I don't think we're all that far off from home 3D printing entering the range of "affordable" for most people. The technology keeps making significant jumps, with everything from shower curtain rings to guns being printed. Once wider adoption becomes a reality, the economic reality of greater mass production will bring it down in short order.

"in a few years" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44972495)

Translation: We have no idea what this is, but we think it's overhyped, and we're hedging our bets so we can either get on or off the bandwagon "in a few years" and still look good now.

No one makes their own clothes, very few people have a computerized sewing machine and buy clothes plans, what makes you think that something more complex and more esoteric is going to catch on like this? Too much sci-fi?

Re:"in a few years" (1)

Applekid (993327) | about a year ago | (#44972537)

Make a prediction. Any prediction.

If you're wrong, no one will remember, or you can make another prediction about something right around the corner that kept your original prediction from coming true. If, on the other hand, it happens to be right, you get bragging rights and credibility in finding your next job as an outside consultant "expert".

Re:"in a few years" (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about a year ago | (#44972835)

Make a prediction. Any prediction.

If you're wrong, no one will remember,


Except if you're Jim Cramer in which case people did, and do, track his predictions [fool.com] so he can't forget and claim otherwise.

If you take notice, there's an awful lot of red on his predictions.

Re:"in a few years" (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about a year ago | (#44972551)

They'll use it to print plastic fruit & vegetables. That way they'll be able to sell perfect looking, albeit, no-taste food which is what they're marketing experts have promtoed.

Re:"in a few years" (5, Interesting)

clodney (778910) | about a year ago | (#44972795)

No one makes their own clothes, very few people have a computerized sewing machine and buy clothes plans, what makes you think that something more complex and more esoteric is going to catch on like this? Too much sci-fi?

This is an excellent point. 3D printing is a potentially transformative technology that is very much in its infancy. How many things are there that are made out of a single material, or even a small number of materials suitable for 3D printing?

Can you print chips? Capacitors? Can you make a metal latch on a plastic body? Right now I think the answer to all those things is no. 3D printing is great for modelmakers, and some specialty niches, but it is a very long way from replacing any significant manufacturing. And even when it evolves to that point I would be surprised if a capable printer would be something that it would be worthwhile to buy for your home.

Re:"in a few years" (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44973449)

Can you make a metal latch on a plastic body?

Not with a single print head. But you can print the metal latch with a sintering printer, print the plastic with an extruding printer, and then have a robot retrieve and assemble the parts. In the near future, multi-process printing will be more common: you will be able to print the metal latch with one print head, and then switch print heads and print plastic into and around the metal part.

Re:"in a few years" (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#44985703)

... and it'll only cost twice as much as replacing the entire object that needs a new latch.

Printed dinner anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44972531)

Now that we can create a hamburger in a lab, maybe we can move toward printing a cooked chicken, including skin and bones? We could use some SPAM aggregation process for the meat and just make polymer bones. The future of this technology knows no bounds.

Re: Printed dinner anyone? (1)

John Guilt (464909) | about a year ago | (#44991985)

If you used a spam algorithm,
  1. the chicken couldn't be kosher or halal, and
  2. the meat would be infused with h3rb4l v1agr4.

Maybe (3, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#44972543)

I can see this, mostly because we are getting some basic 3D printers out there. The cost of the originals was in the precision apparatus. Right now printer can get down to features below half a mm and layer thickness of tens of microns. If those number doubled, the price might come down by as much as half.

Also, given a market for drawings there might actually be something to print. Of course every pop culture firm is going to be suing every one to death for every depiction of mickey mouse or jar jar binks or the enterprise. I suppose that they will have trouble with toy manufacturers if they wanted to license such templates. I am not sure how many people will go and design their own. I practice by designing a chess set, but I got some high end software for free.

Then there is the cost of the resin, which is really why Costco wants to go into the business. I would assume that 3D printers are going to end up like ink jet printers. Many will have then, as they might only cost a few hundred dollars, bug the sticker shock might put them in a corner. Or like label makers. I have one, but I am not really willing to shell out the cost of a cartridge.

Better hurry (1)

djupedal (584558) | about a year ago | (#44972623)

Expect Kinko's to be ready very soon. But then all the corner store offerings will go the way of photo printing outlets once the ability moves into the home.

Re:Better hurry (1)

EmperorArthur (1113223) | about a year ago | (#44973683)

Expect Kinko's to be ready very soon. But then all the corner store offerings will go the way of photo printing outlets once the ability moves into the home.

Most homes own a printer, but Kinko's is still in business. They fill a rather large niche. I expect in store 3d printing to go the same way.

Re:Better hurry (1)

triffid_98 (899609) | about a year ago | (#44974861)

And I for one welcome these strange new Kinko's locations with industrial three phase power and 3,000lb metal laser sintering printers.

I'm sure there will be consumers lining up at the doors, Solidworks 3D models in hand...ignoring the long print times and that your average consumer has never even heard of CAD before.

Re:Better hurry (1)

EmperorArthur (1113223) | about a year ago | (#44975991)

And I for one welcome these strange new Kinko's locations with industrial three phase power and 3,000lb metal laser sintering printers.
I'm sure there will be consumers lining up at the doors, Solidworks 3D models in hand...ignoring the long print times and that your average consumer has never even heard of CAD before.

If they had there models in hand wouldn't that defeat the purpose? :D

More seriously, I expect people to hit print on a website, then drive down to the store to pick it up. They could run it like Etsy or Amazon, where Kinko's takes a percentage of the profits. Instead of shipping, the item is automatically printed at the nearest store. It would actually be pretty efficient for low sales volumes.

Next obvious: Cabela's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44972749)

Because 3D printing isn't just for cake decorations anymore.

Huh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44972799)

I wonder if I'm the only one that misread "Tesco" as "Taco"

Re:Huh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44973489)

Yes you are.

centralize 3d printing locations... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44972833)

easier for the government to keep tabs on who you are and what you print....

and, you know how staffed photo counters (or self-serve ones like at walmart where the prints print-out 'behind the counter' and need to be handled, packaged and priced by staff) question photograph ownership and license to reprint if a photo is tagged no reprints/do not copy, is printed on branded professional paper, has a studio name or logo imprinted on it, or even if it simply _looks_ like it might be a professionally taken photograph?.... yes, they do this.. especially ones run by staff that remembers their corporate training --- its to minimize threat of legal action for being a party to copyright infringement.. they'll also turn you in if you try printing a picture of your child's or baby's bath, or that one every parent has of their toddler bending over (you know the one), or similar pictures of your children.

expect the same thing with 3d printing counters. the stores will eventually require proof of design ownership or license to print, or at least a signed affidavit saying you do have the legal right to print whatever it is you're printing.. along with a swipe of your drivers license or rfid passport, and dont forget to smile for the cctv cameras.

$100 3D Printer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44973001)

This Kicksarter [kickstarter.com] Looks interesting.

Re:$100 3D Printer (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44973385)

Interesting concept indeed:

The peachy printer is a Photolithographic printer. That means it uses a controlled beam of light to cure light sensitive resin into hard objects... The software we wrote as an add on to blender takes the data from that 3D model and translates it into an audio waveform. It then plays the audio file out to the printer through the headphone jack in your computer. This waveform drives a pair of electro magnetic mirrors. The higher the volume, the higher the voltage, the more the mirrors move. The purpose of these mirrors is to reflect and control the path of the laser beam. By using the audio waveform generated from the 3D model data to drive the mirrors, we are able to get the laser beam to draw out the shape of the object.

Novel.

Tesco burger fail (1)

BlazingATrail (3112385) | about a year ago | (#44973189)

Customer punches in "burger" and Tesco printer groans, sputters and out pops a miniature Horse. go Tesco!

love it (1)

Threni (635302) | about a year ago | (#44973193)

"As a company, you know, internet version two, cat memes and WiFi, and now 3d printing. So, yes. Twitter trend and online social media crowd source hashtag."

Will cause all kinds of problems in the UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44973195)

Just wait for the first wiseacre to go in and print out a gun or a dildo

Re:Will cause all kinds of problems in the UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44973555)

No problem with the dildo, but the gun will probably get the police involved. Pretty much the opposite of what would happen in America.

No it won't (1)

koan (80826) | about a year ago | (#44973203)

3D printing, while conceptually cool, has a long way to go before it's commonly used in a Tesco. The people propping this story up were probably early purveyors for the flying car concept, and can you just imagine the same idiots you see on the road everyday flying?

I'm still waiting for the first story on "3D printing lung" from breathing PLA dust.

If you can't see where this is heading...

What do people print? (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about a year ago | (#44973351)

So I think 3D printing is cool and all that, and there's lots of value for some people, but as a 46-year old dad of two kids who is frequently at the supermarket, I struggle to figure out what I would need to 3D print.

I'm Canadian, so not interested in printing a gun, what else is there? What does a typical family need to 3D print these days?

Re:What do people print? (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about a year ago | (#44973513)

I could print on cakes as a teen. The obvious thing that never happened was having them print out those sugar statues to decorate the cake with.

I'm surprised somebody doesn't have sugar printers since those would have been easier to do way before these early plastic melting ones came out.

It's extravagant, but an in store printer would make it affordable enough people could be using it (at least initially with a catalog of shapes- but today you could scan a person or shape in the store.)

Dolls? (aka toy soldiers) are not so popular... Now they sell these evil candy toys with a bit of candy decorating a battery powered toy made in china - why would a child want a figurine when they could get that shiny flashy thing that does something to hold their attention ...for the life of the sucker it comes with! (I love how many of these things are suckers... the pun... and how the toy's lifespan isn't much longer than the candy... that is, the use of it-- it is around the house for months before being trashed and lasting 1000s of years in the landfill.)

Re:What do people print? (1)

compro01 (777531) | about a year ago | (#44973961)

I could print on cakes as a teen. The obvious thing that never happened was having them print out those sugar statues to decorate the cake with.

I'm surprised somebody doesn't have sugar printers since those would have been easier to do way before these early plastic melting ones came out.

They do.

Check out some of the stuff these guys made [the-sugar-lab.com] . They just recently got bought up by 3D Systems.

Re:What do people print? (1)

EmperorArthur (1113223) | about a year ago | (#44973665)

So I think 3D printing is cool and all that, and there's lots of value for some people, but as a 46-year old dad of two kids who is frequently at the supermarket, I struggle to figure out what I would need to 3D print.

I'm Canadian, so not interested in printing a gun, what else is there? What does a typical family need to 3D print these days?

Those dinky little plastic parts that break all the time. If you have kids, especially younger ones, then you know just how weak some plastic things are.

There are a couple things keeping 3d printers from being used much more extensively. First, the cost of the printer itself. Second, the accuracy of the cheaper printers. Third, the cost of printing materials. Fourth, the slowness of most 3d printers. Finally, the time required to learn and use the software.

Stores offering 3d printing can buy more expensive accurate 3d printers that use cheaper material. They can print multiple things at once, and the customer doesn't have to babysit the printer, so slowness is less of an issue. The idea is for the consumer to just upload whatever file they want to the stores website. The consumer doesn't even need to know how to work the actual modeling software. Just like people don't need to know Photoshop to print a picture.

Here's an example. My speakers have detachable plastic stands. If I lose one of them, then my speakers are much less useful. The cost to get it replaced in the traditional way is more than the speakers are worth. So, I can take the other one into a store that does 3d printing. They'll scan it, then print an exact duplicate of it. Two hours, and $10 later I'm in business.

Re:What do people print? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#44975963)

Those dinky little plastic parts that break all the time. If you have kids, especially younger ones, then you know just how weak some plastic things are.

And then when the 3D printed one breaks (which it will because something made of separate blobs will generally be weaker than something made in one piece) you can go back next week and print another one.

What a business model! It's just like razor blades.

Re:What do people print? (1)

EmperorArthur (1113223) | about a year ago | (#44976033)

Maybe, but if they're cheap enough you can just buy them in bulk and not worry about it. Though it would be cool if they then gave me the cad file so I could have it printed out of metal or whatever I wanted.

On the store's side, a razor blade model isn't a bad one. I mean, people keep buying those crappy inkjet printers, instead of investing in a good color laser.

Re:What do people print? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#44985811)

You can't just take a design intended for plastic and make it in metal. Well you can, but it probably won't work, or not very well.

The form of an object and the material it's made from are intrinsically linked.

Re:What do people print? (1)

compro01 (777531) | about a year ago | (#44974151)

Parts.

Your son breaks the arm on your daughter's favourite doll? Scan the pieces, reassemble it in the model editor, print it, stick the new arm on, and the doll is good as new.

Some little button or knob on something breaks? Do the same.

Into classic cars? Need some unobtainium part? Model it up or scan the existing broken one and print it, either for direct use or for making a mold. Jay Leno has been raving for years about how awesome 3D printing is replacing for obscure parts. [popularmechanics.com]

This will be a real game changer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44973445)

You know those terrible grocery store toys that no kid wants? Now grocery stores won't have to go to the trouble of managing inventory for these items!

3D printing and its parallels (2)

Phoenix666 (184391) | about a year ago | (#44973831)

I remember sending my first email over a modem in the early 80's. By the time I was in college 10 years later Usenet, BBS'es, MUDs, and the like were old hat to me, but the general public had no real use for computers and even many of my classmates still used actual typewriters to write their papers. It wasn't until the Dot-Com era was in full swing that the general public started to pay attention to computers and the Internet. Even then, though, many people of my generation and older smirked to refer to themselves as "Roadkill on the Information Superhighway." That only really disappeared around 2005 when social media started to take off.

So the point is, from the perspective of the general public there is a significant lag between when a transformative technology changes the world and when your average Joe wakes up to the fact that a revolution has already happened. I suspect it will be much the same with 3D printing, and the other significant, significant technologies that are birthing now such as wearable computing or implantable electronics, RFID or the "Internet of Things."

However in this case the real transformation is not technical, but psycho-social. Getting people to transform from the brain-dead, passive consumers they've been conditioned to be the past 100 years to the self-directed, creative makers 3D printing and these other technologies will enable them to be (at a lower barrier to entry than before, naturally), will take a lot longer than the 30 years it's taken the Information Revolution to get truly underway. That does mean early adopters will enjoy a significant, significant competitive advantage for a generation because now more than ever they can talk to other like minds via the Internet and multiply their native talents. And, now more than ever, they can say who gives a shit if Joe Sixpack next door doesn't get it? I can run circles around him before he even knows there's a race on.

Amid the totalitarian shadow of the NSA and the counter-revolutionary tendencies of the Powers-That-Be, it's the one thing that gives me hope for the future.

Re:3D printing and its parallels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980965)

The only thing? [youtu.be]

Food (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about a year ago | (#44973851)

Not saying that food cant be printed, but it opens up an entire new problem with health regulations.

Re:Food (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44974887)

"Printing" is about shape, not content. A "food printer" that prints a candy bar out of chocolate won't be able to print an apple. Other than a chocolate candy that looks like an apple.

Right On! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44974329)

I just posted something to the effect the other day on another site. 3D Printing will invade commercial spaces WAY before (if ever) it invades the home. I just can't see the majority of any country's population needing to produce some custom plastic part often enough to merit the purchase of a 3D printer, even if said printer is only $100. Well, if they're only $100, many will buy them as a fad and never really do anything with them beyond whatever the 'hello world' equivalent of 3D printing will be.

mod 04 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44974729)

it Atte8pts to infinitesimally

What could go wrong? (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about a year ago | (#44976127)

I can just imagine all the dildoes thiese things will be printing up.
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