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Is 3D Printing the Future of U.S. Manufacturing? Probably

At this point, 3D printing is nothing new; in fact it's one of the most hyped innovations of the last few years. Still for most of us it still sounds like something out of a sci-fi flick, accessible only to the tech-y elite. That's all changing. 3D printing is entering the mainstream consumer market—and may prove to be the future of manufacturing in America.


The latest sign of this trend comes from Canadian company Matterform, which has recently announced the Photon, a 3D scanner for the (relatively) accessible price of $599. It scans objects with lasers to turn it into a digital 3D model on your computer that can be printed on a 3D printer. This video shows how it works:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trEZz6f4M-U
Matterform's Indiegogo campaign for the product raised $330 thousand in the first three weeks—a pretty good indicator of the demand out there. (I mean, check out some of the awesome things people have made with 3D printers.)
They're not the only company in the hot emerging market. MakerBot unveiled its 3D scanner, the "digitizer," at SXSW last month. And just this week Shapeways, a 3D printing company based in Queens whose mission is "to bring 3D printing to everybody," announced a huge influx of funding.
"Today, 3D printing has taken the manufacturing industry by storm and everyone is talking about this groundbreaking technology," says the Shapeways blog. "President Obama even recently called out 3D printing as one of the important technologies that can bring manufacturing back to the USA."
Image via (cc) flickr user via Andrew Goldstraw\n
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