Berlin, the capital of Germany, was host to
the 3D Printshow for the very first time this year. And while it wasn’t the largest of
3D printing conventions, there were still plenty of exciting things to see.
Starting with the printers themselves: The big brands like Makerbot and Stratasys were
of course still doing their thing, while the smaller companies were the # big attraction.
Quite iterally. Like the BigRep, which can print things up
an entire cubic meter in size. Printing your own furniture? No problem. A lot of the more
compact printers were focusing more on speed and ease-of use instead of promising too much
of everything. The italian WASP and the danish Dynamo 3D folks both created platforms that
can outperform the tried-and true machines, like the Ultimaker, with three times faster
print times under very specific circumstances. Oh, and of course, Ultimaker were there as
well, with the three sizes of Ultimaker 2 they are offering now. The pocket-sized Ultimaker
Go really looks tiny next to its larger brothers, but it seems to deliver the same top-notch
quality you’d expect from the bigger ones. They do look very slick, but what if you want
something more approachable and warmer? Well, there’s the Aye Aye Labs Hotrod Henry, a
fused filament 3D printer / styled to look like a 50’s household appliance, which definitely
turned out to be # the most unique thing at the 3D Printshow.
But plastics weren’t the only thing that was being printed on the showfloor. The mcor
Iris uses copy paper as the base material for its prints and prints in calibrated full
color, WASP showed a printer using ceramics, while the members of the FabLab Maastricht
were using chocolates and other edible material to 3D print food. It’s not exactly Star
Trek Replicator material yet, but the results were definitely enjoyable.
And it seems that FabLabs are growing in popularity, probably in a large part thanks to the flexibility
of the 3D printers that they are making available for their members. The FabLab Berlin took
it a step further and is even selling their own 3D printer, which is their version of
the Prusa i3. And they’re printing banana holders with it, because, why not.
Another application that looks like it’s maturing very quickly is 3D scanning, and
there were two companies showing off what they can do. One the one side, there was the
fuel 3D scanner, which can capture smaller areas in a single shot, on the other side,
there was my3Dtwin, who were doing full body 3D scanning.
Where affordable scanning is probably going to make the biggest impact is with the low-cost
3D printed prosthetics shown here that were either made on expensive laser sintering machines
or on highly affordable consumer 3D printers. The art gallery at the Berlin 3D printshow
was highly impressive as well. There was the entire bandwidth of 3D printed art, starting
with geometric experiments, some of which involved a significant amount of manual post-processing,
over super-complex and detailed prints which, in terms of the overall finish, are impossible
to tell from really well-made, one-off handcrafted parts, but would also be impossible to create
that way. So that was the Berlin 3D Printshow 2015,
if you get the chance of visiting another 3D Printshow near you, you should definitely
go and check it out.