The recent 2014 International CES in Las Vegas may have been the tipping point for consumer interest in the 3-D printing space. Both 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) and Stratasys' (NASDAQ:SSYS) MakerBot busted out major announcements.
While 3D Systems still derives about 90% of its revenue from the professional market, a lot of the excitement in Vegas centered on the consumer and "prosumer" side – including an update and price cut on its third-generation Cube model.
MakerBot, meanwhile, unveiled three new models. Our roving reporter Rex Moore was there, and conducted an extensive (and entertaining) interview with MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis. While the hardware is exciting, one of the things that sets MakerBot apart is its Thingiverse ecosystem.
In this segment, Pettis discusses the power of Thingiverse. This online service acts as a social network where 3-D printing enthusiasts can upload their own designs for printable objects, or download the designs of others. This essentially allows users to download real, tangible things in the same way they would download books or movies or software. Pettis also talks about some other strategic releases for the company, such as its mobile application, and the MakerBot PrintShop application, a design tool for the iPad.