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3D Systems has teamed up with toy manufacturer Hasbro with plans to print Transformers characters for children and full-grown geeks alike. The co-developed 3D toys should be available sometime later this year, but product pricing and exact models remain unknown.
"We believe 3D printing offers endless potential to bring incredible new play experiences for kids and we're excited to work with 3D Systems, a recognized industry leader in this space," said Brian Goldner, Hasbro President and CEO, in a statement.
Hasbro also oversees Star Wars, Monopoly, Scrabble, and other popular games, so the potential for 3D printed toys has barely scratched the surface. As casual consumers become more accustomed to seeing 3D products, the children's market could help drive demand - once prices continue to drop - in the years to come.
Auto maker Ford has teamed up with 3D specialist 3D Systems to print edible chocolate models of the 2015 Ford Mustang. The American auto company plans to make both chocolate and sugar candies of the car, which started with a CAD rendering that was then sent to a 3D printer.
"We wanted to create something fun to show that while 3D printing made these edible Mustangs, manufacturing-level 3D printing was used in the development of Ford's all-new sports car," said Paul Susalla, 3D specialist at Ford.
Depending on consumer reaction, it's possible Ford will provide 3D-printed chocolate and candies for general purchase.
Ford already has worked to integrate 3D printing into its business, using 3D printed parts that engineers can tweak and test, for example, in an effort to remain competitive. The 2015 Ford Mustang will hit the auto market in fall 2014 for U.S. consumers, with other markets receiving the vehicle throughout 2015.
Consumers following 3D printing likely haven't purchased a unit for use at home, but the market could evolve into a $70 billion per year industry, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.
"In spite of widespread publicity around 3D printing over the past year or so, 3D printers designed for home use are only at the beginning of their long journey towards widespread consumer adoption," said David Mercer, Strategy Analytics Principal Analyst, in a press statement. "The industry must overcome a number of barriers if the long-term potential of 3D printing as a consumer market is to be realized."
3D printing has become a popular topic of discussion in the business world, with consumer companies, manufacturing, biotech and medical industries especially interested in the emerging technology. However, until the price of printers - and materials - drops more in 2014, home users are likely going to simply sit and wait to see how the market develops.
Warner Bros. Pictures recently announced the IMAX 3D version of "Gravity" has topped $100 million in 639 theaters since release on Oct. 3, 2013. Movie industry analysts saw tremendous demand for the 3D version of Gravity, with the film designed to make a fantastic viewing experience in 3D theaters.
The original IMAX version of the film was the highest-grossing IMAX movie of 2013 in the United States and international markets, box office records reveal.
"We congratulate our longtime partners at Warner Bros., along with writer-director-producer Alfonso Cuaron, and producer David Heyman, for crafting a visually and emotionally stunning film that appeals to IMAX audiences around the world and has also garnered widespread acclaim," said Greg Foster, IMAX CEO, in a statement.
3D movie technology has largely improved over the past two years, but movie goers don't like the viewing experience and higher price tag of 3D movies. However, select movie titles can generate good box office results, although it is difficult to determine which movies will succeed.
TweakTown published a Gravity review in late October, which can be read here.
There will be 28 3D movie releases in 2014, which is a continued slide in overall releases with consumers showing less interest in the pricier movie experience. A recent industry analyst believes 3D movies will capture just 39 percent of box office revenue in 2014, which would be the lowest ratio sales comparison in more than five years.
A recent Harris Poll study found that 69 percent of American movie goers believe 3D is only so movie studios and theaters can charge more for movie tickets.
For the past few years, there was interest from movie theaters want more expensive 2D films, with 3D movie prices lowering slightly, to generate new interest. However, that technique wisely wasn't rolled out, though 3D movie box office sales figures still disappoint.
Paramount Pictures will release a 3D version of "Noah," but it will not be available in the United States, as the studio hopes to generate added revenue in 65 foreign markets.
"Noah" won't be available in 3D for U.S., U.K., Australian and French markets, with the audience expected to embrace "the combination of the pedigree of the director and the cast and the dramatic elements of the story," The Hollywood Reporter learned.
Although 3D technology has piqued interest in movie goers and consumers, they are still rather unwilling to pay even more for 3D in the theater - and don't trust 3D HDTVs at home quite yet. It will be revealing to see which movies are released in 3D while at the theater and which geographic markets are targeted.
As noted by the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and other major technology conferences, focus on 3D printing has grabbed consumer attention. Despite promising breakthroughs, many technology industry followers feel 3D is nothing more than a gimmick, though that is a mindset that 3D supporters continue to fight against.
"Now everybody knows about it and CEOs are telling their organizations to find out about 3D printing and how they're going to adopt it," said Bruce Bradshaw, Stratasys Marketing Director, when speaking to journalists. "That's the dynamic that has changed."
There is renewed focus on 3D printing as recent technological breakthroughs indicate hardware is a major step closer to mainstream. 3D printing gives designers the ability to conceptualize products and create real-world 3D renderings before going to mass production, with 3D renderings created layer by layer.
Looking ahead, 3D printing speed will increase, and the complexity of items printed will also mature as companies continue to push the boundaries.
The 3D printing movement will see a strong boost from the biopharmaceutical industry, and that will bring about ethical and moral issues that need to be sorted out. Major ethical debates will likely take place by 2016, according to research firm Gartner, as developing nations and emerging markets should drive 3D demand.
Companies that have the ability to print human tissue and organs, for example, are well-intentioned, but there is very little medical precedent.
"3D bioprinting facilities with the ability to print human organs and tissue will advance far faster than general understanding and acceptance of the ramifications of this technology," claims Pete Basiliere, Gartner Research Director, in a statement. "These initiatives are well-intentioned, but raise a number of questions that remain unanswered. What happens when complex 'enhanced' organs involving nonhuman cells are made? Who will control the ability to produce them? Who will ensure the quality of the resulting organs?"
As 3D printing continues to increase, with increased health and biopharma implications, the debate needs to begin sooner rather than later.
Companies are testing the potential of 3D printed food in what could evolve into one of the biggest 3D market segments moving forward. During the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month, a number of different companies showed off 3D printing technology, including several food-based products.
There are a number of different types of 3D-printed foods currently in various phases of development, and it will be an industry to watch in the future.
Chocolate maker Hershey's also teamed up with a 3D company to produce 3D printed chocolate, which will be a major draw for the company's gift shop. Cornell Creative Machines Lab has developed printers that can dough-based corn chips, while sugar candies also are available courtesy of 3D Systems' Chefjet.
NASA contractor Systems & Materials Research is working on a pizza printer that provides taste, nutrition, and less waste in the space shuttle and at the International Space Station (ISS).
The fashion industry is embracing 3D technology at an accelerated pace, offering an early glimpse into what consumers can expect to see on store shelves in the years to come.
San Francisco clothing maker Continuum already offers wearable 3D printed clothing products, while running shoe maker New Balance is dabbling with printed shoes. The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show has also demonstrated the latest generation of 3D clothing, which will help influence 3D printing in the fashion industry.
The cost of 3D printing is still extremely expensive, so average consumers likely won't print their own clothing, socks and shoes in the immediate future - but it's a fascinating market that continues to evolve at an accelerated rate.
Around 10 percent of all consumer products by 2025 will be 3D-related, according to recent industry estimates, though seems to be of interest to technology enthusiasts at this point. It will take additional time for 3D printing technology to develop - and clothing manufacturers to test 3D internally - before all retail stores offer 3D-printed clothing.