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3-D Printing Goes Big, Really Big

Alex Planes
December 7, 2012

There are many barriers delaying the truly widespread adoption of 3-D printing.

One of them is the size of the devices. Printing out a handheld toy is neat, but we use so many things that are, well, bigger. Another roadblock is multi-material capability. I covered both of these issues early in the year in my article titled "The Death of Manufacturing is Coming... Eventually," in which I compared an early Stratasys (NASDAQ: SSYS) industrial printer with the recently announced 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD) Cube. The problem with the Cube was, and remains, that it's barely more than a toy, small and materially limited. What I suggested was, instead, that:

There's no reason the technology can't take a prominent place in home improvement warehouses to, say, print customized flooring or ensure there are enough snow shovels before a blizzard. The only restrictions are material cost and printable size. Instead of shrinking, 3-D printers should be getting bigger and more efficient. A six-foot tall printer should be able to craft something that's not much smaller than its own footprint.

Let's fast-forward to the present day.

I didn't accurately peg the industry that would first move on installing the technology in