3D printing takes another step towards the mainstream today, with Maplin becoming the first high street retailer to stock a next-gen printer for the home.
The Velleman K8200 represents a significant breakthrough for the technology, but there are still limits to its accessibility despite Maplin's mass-market launch. The 3D printer costs a hefty £700 and takes around 10 hours to assemble.
The ability to experiment with the production of small plastic objects will nevertheless be an appealing one for those with a bit of cash to spare, with the Velleman K8200 capable of printing anything the user desires provided it its below 20cm^3.
The design process takes places via specialist software on a computer and the object can be printed in one colour – black, white, blue, red, orange, green, yellow or pink. The printer itself is the size of a mid-range laser printer and replacement cartridges cost £30 for 1kg of the plastic resin.
"Until now, the cost of 3D printers limited their use to the professional market. However, the Velleman K8200 kit has enabled us to introduce 3D printing to the mass market,” said Oliver Meakin, Maplin's commercial director.
"We selected this model primarily because it offers high performance printing at an affordable price, making it accessible to our customers. In addition, it requires assembly before use, which fits with the 'build it yourself' ethos so central to Maplin's heritage,” he added.
The Velleman K8200 release build on some momentum Microsoft brought to 3D printing last week, after the software giant introduced a ‘direct pipeline’ to 3D printing applications in the preview of its Windows 8.1 update.