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3D printer prices drop, food printers arrive at CES

Lucas Mearian | Jan. 10, 2014
The number of 3D printer vendors rose from five last year to more than 20 this year, and prices for their machines have come down dramatically.

The company also launched a new ceramics 3D printer, the CeraJet, which uses ceramic powder in an inkjet-like cartridge that is combined with a liquid binder when it's sprayed out.

A bit larger than a washing machine, when the printer is available in the second half of this year, it will sell for under $10,000. Small manufacturers and other companies would use the CeraJet for creating prototypes and products, said Andrew Jeffery, director of ceramics at 3D Systems.

"It has the durability of any other ceramic and will last 30,000 years," Jeffery said.

A ceramic teapot printed in five hours on the new CeraJet ceramic 3D printer.

Besides new printers, 3D Systems has a new 3D scanner called the iSense, that plugs into an iPad and allows users to take photos that are immediately transferred to the computer. The 3D images can then be uploaded to the 3D Systems cloud printing site.

The 3D scanner will cost $499 when it debuts in the second quarter.

The most interesting 3D printer of the bunch is the ChefJet 3D Printer series, which can print food, well, confections, that is. 3D Systems announced last year that it was developing a 3D food printer. The new ChefJet and ChefJet Pro (the larger version) were released this week and can print a variety of recipes.

The ChefJet printer is expected to sell for under $5,000 while the larger ChefJet Pro (also about the size of a washing machine) will retail in the sub-$10,000 range.

The ChefJet can build an object up to 8 in. x 8 in. x 6 in. in size, and the ChefJet Pro can print up to 10 in. x 14 in x 8 in. Both printers can use several flavors including chocolate, vanilla, mint, sour apple, cherry and watermelon.

The machines can print cake toppers, centerpieces, garnishes and custom candies.

A sugar centerpiece made by the ChefJet 3D printer.

MakerBot releases three new 3D printers
Not to be outdone, MakerBot also released three new printers, the fifth generation of its Replicator line. The printers only use PLA that comes in 16 colors, including six translucent.

This generation of MakerBot Replicator printers are also app and cloud-enabled so users can download CAD images for printing over Wi-Fi directly on the machine.

The Replicator Mini, the smallest printer of the bunch, will retail for $1,375, when it becomes available this spring. The Mini has a build volume of 3.9 in. x 3.9 in. x 4.9 in. in size.

The MakerBot Replicator, the middle of the line, will retail for $2,899. It has a build area of 456 cubic inches, about 11% larger than its predecessor, the Replicator 2. The machine can connect to a computer via USB and Ethernet to download CAD images to print. The printer comes equipped with a 3.5-in. color LCD display. The machine is also expected to have Wi-Fi capability soon.


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