During South by Southwest this year, 3D printing is on full display, with industry supporters handing out 3D-printed food to event attendees. Major tradeshows and conventions, such as CES 2014 and SXSW are helping display 3D technology on a big platform, introducing a new audience to potential for the food industry.
3D printed food should give the 3D printing industry a strong boost in 2014, with a larger number of casual consumers being exposed to the technology. Chocolate maker Hershey's is expected to support 3D printing for the next few years, creating edible chocolate sweets for visitors at its factory in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
3D Systems, which partnered with Hershey's and other select companies, has the ChefJet food printer - though with a price tag still around $5,000, only a small number of bakeries and food makers will be able to afford the niche technology. During SXSW, the ChefJet is using sugar, water and alcohol to print delicious candies that taste sugary and sweet.
The cost of 3D printing still hasn't decreased enough to significantly drive consumer adoption, but a growing number of businesses should start thinking about the technology. It's not just small bits of food or novelty items - there is great potential to 3D print human tissue, car parts, fighter jet materials, furniture, and other similar intricate products.
Decision makers need to decide if 3D printing will help produce, sell, or otherwise benefit the company - and consider the costs and technological issues relating to move from traditional printing to 3D printing.
"Over the last six months, my colleague Michael Yamnitsky and I have been research the 3D printing ecosystem, working to understand the impact on business and technology systems," said Sophia Vargas, Forrester analyst, in a blog post. "We anticipate that 3D printing will expand the reach of digital disruption, paving the way for new products, processes, and delivery models."
Technology to bring 3D printing closer to the mass market is accelerating, though most 3D printed items tend to be rather small in size. To help demonstrate the effectiveness of printing larger items, BigRep, a company founded in 2014, opens the door to printing items such as furniture. The device is launching worldwide at large trade shows, and begins shipping in two months, with a $39,000 MSRP.
The BigRep One can print full-scale objects in sizes up to 45x39x47 inches, and has the ability to print plastics, nylons, Laywood (wood fibers mixed with polymers), and Laybrick (something similar to sandstone-type of material).
"We know that the need for 3D prints has increased enormously in the creative industries among architects, artists and inventors, among others," said Lukas Oehmigen, BigRep founder, in a press statement. "We have developed printing technology that lowers costs by about 90%, opening the door to a new dimension. Clients may now affordably produce life-size, three dimensional objects."
The Queensland Police are now able to quickly and accurately map a crime scene using a handheld mapping scanner developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
The device can measure up to 30 meters away with laser technology coupled with a remote-sensing scanner able to measure gravitational forces, velocity and orientation.
"The benefits of this new technology will reduce interference at a scene, save time and allow access to previously hard to reach areas such as steep declines and bushland," said Ian Stewart, Queensland Police Commissioner, in a statement.
The CSIRO Zebedee Scanner is mainly seeing use in the field by crime scene investigators, though could be used in auto collisions and other routine incidents, officials say
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.
Cody Wilson, the person responsible for releasing the first fully 3D printable gun blueprint in 2013, has signed a $250,000 book deal with Simon & Schuster. Wilson approached several book publishers about Negative Liberty, the working title of the book, though some publishers felt he was trying to circumvent gun laws.
"The whole point to me is to add to the hacker mythology and to have a very, very accurate and contentious portrayal of what we think about the current political situation, our attitude and political orientation, a lasting remark," Wilson recently noted. "It won't be a manifesto. But culturally I hope to leave a couple of zingers... a touchstone for the young, disaffected radical towards his own political and social development, that kind of thing."
The 3D printable gun blueprint quickly racked up more than 100,000 downloads in just two days, and captured mainstream media attention. Suddenly, 3D printing technology, which is still in its relative infancy, caused a major debate about legality and ethics related to 3D printing.
Expectant mothers can shell out between $200 to $600 for a 3D print model of their unborn child, thanks to the 3D Babies company. Using 3D and 4D ultrasounds and computer images leads to a 3D image in three different sizes: 2" Mini 3D Baby, 4" Halfsize 3D Baby, or the 8" Life size 3D Baby. The baby doll renderings can be made in two different positions, which allow parents to make a decision to disclose gender prior to birth.
"Our ultimate goal is to bring a smile to the faces of parents, grandparents, and other family members as they recall the day that they met their little one," the company's website reads. "This product will become a treasured family heirloom."
There is huge potential for 3D imaging, but an artist rendering of a fetus in the womb might creep some expectant parents out. 3D Babies is well short of its $15,000 crowdfunding goal, but decided to move ahead with production.
Chocolate maker Hershey's and 3D Systems recently announced a multi-year partnership to use 3D printers to create edible foods in the future. Hershey's is the only major food manufacturer to jump into 3D printing, as the overall cost of printing 3D food is still extremely expensive and remains difficult.
"We believe that innovation is key to delivering relevant, compelling consumer experiences with our iconic brands," said William Papa, Hershey's VP and Chief Research and Development Officer, in a statement. "Whether it's creating a whole new form of candy or developing a new way to produce it, we embrace new technologies such as 3D printing as a way to keep moving our timeless confectionery treats into the future."
3D printer technology is revolutionizing the industry at a rapid pace, and there is massive potential for 3D printed food and edibles down the road.
(Image courtesy: AFP/Getty Images)
Smart glass manufacturer Vuzix has entered a manufacturing partnership with a tier 1 partner to develop a new generation of see-through smart glasses. The undisclosed partner hasn't been announced, but the prototypes will use the Vuzix see-through optics engine, with the first phase to be completed in 2015.
Manufacturers are trying to develop new smart glasses that closely resemble designer eyewear, but additional research and development time is necessary.
"Many analysts and industry executives are expecting this space to exhibit continued rapid growth," said Paul Travers, Vuzix President, in a press statement. "This was evident at CES last week. With the anticipated growth in this sector, those wearable products that address the real needs of the customer stand to garner the largest market share."
Smart glasses and similar technologies were a big hit during the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and wearable computing devices are expected to ship 485 million units by 2018, according to ABI Research.
Television manufacturer IZON quietly showed off its own 3D high-definition TV capability during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), preparing consumers for glasses-free 3DTVs. The company unveiled 32-inch, 47-inch, and 55-inch 3DTVs that won't require glasses, which will be available to consumers sometime in the first half of 2014.
"IZON 3D TVs without glasses received an unprecedented response to its product line," said Joseph DiFrancesco, CEO of 3D Future Vision, which develops IZON TVs, in a press statement. "We experienced nothing but praise for the unparalleled picture quality of our products and look forward to executing our plans for a global roll-out during the coming year and beyond."
IZON used its HyperMix3D rendering technology to enjoy the hardware benefits of multi-core GPUs, and made sure to include a full 3D experience with minimal eyestrain.
HDTVs and 3D technology offered a big showing during CES, with a wide range of budget TVs to higher-end expensive models - and consumers have a wide variety of companies and products to choose from.
NVIDIA are having as Borat would describe "great success!" with their 3D Vision technology. Today NVIDIA have released a 3D Vision module which enables Web developers to easily build websites for streaming high-quality 3D video to 3D Vision-equipped PCs. The technology is designed as a plug-in for Microsoft's new Media Platform Player Framework Web development solution, it's also available for free and there's also a how-to-guide at http://www.3dvisionlive.com/apps
If you'd like to know more, NVIDIA have provided some information and a 'how-to' guide on how to stream 3D video on your website.
I'm guessing you probably thought I meant "Shows", but no, there are in fact 3D shoes making their way to the market. Nike have released a pair of Zoom Kobe VI 3D shoes for the upcoming All-Star Game.
Insane! Look at them, really, do we need 3D shoes? Who is going to put 3D glasses on to look down at their own shoes? Or have some mates over and tell them excitedly "come over here and put these 3D glasses on!" "yeah, now what!", "dude, look at my shoes!!!".