After a whirlwind couple of weeks of travel and tradeshows, I’ve had a chance to digest my first experience at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, aka CES 2015.
My main purpose for attending was to see the latest and greatest in the 3D printing space as this year was supposed to be twice the size as last year. It was arguably also one of the largest gatherings of 3DP companies in one place. I’m not sure if there is a bigger event that targets the non-industrial users but CES certainly didn’t disappoint.
Spread out over a large section of the Sands Expo Hall, the 3D printing zone was packed with all the well known companies but also plenty of smaller booths and technology related to 3DP.
So what did I see? Here’s some highlights:
Plastic printers (FDM)
FDM printers were everywhere of every shape and size. I kind of expected that but there were so many variations it was hard to keep track of them all. A lot of clones of other popular machines…which was also expected.
Mini printers were ‘big’ at CES with Ultimaker unveiling their Ultimaker Go printer in addition to a taller, larger version of their popular 2 series:
as well, Lulzbot released their mini printer:
3DP Unlimited had a huge table sized printer and lots of large print samples that must have taken ages to make:
Resin Printers (DLP SLA)
Autodesk had an impressive booth with lots of different use cases for 3D printing and also showcased their own Ember DLP printer which was great to see in person as it’s not shipping yet and is also meant for early adopters with an Explorer edition (not unlike Google Glass) that you need to apply for. It’s built on their open SPARK platform and is one of the first printers to utilize SPARK.
Of course there were other DLP printers on display from Form Labs, XYZ Printers and others but the potential of the SPARK platform is what’s most exciting to me.
DWS had an impressive display of wax based printers for use in jewelry design, dental and industrial applications.
There were a number of vendors with 3D scanning hardware either handheld or full size booths. One that stood out was the 3DME booth from 3D Systems which is a stand alone monolith that does all the heavy lifting in the cloud along with product fulfillment from them directly so it’s perfect for a store or mall setting where everything is handled onscreen. I got scanned and turned into Rick from the Walking Dead in a surprising simple process albeit just a face map scan onto an existing model.
Fashion made a big appearance at CES as well, including the kinematics dress by Nervous System at the Autodesk booth
Printing with Food
Until now, most of the ‘food’ printers I’ve heard of or seen have been modified 3D printers that can print with edible food. There were two major presentations of food printers that I came across at CES. 3D Systems has been in the game for a while with their Chefjet printer and debuted the Cocojet printer at the show. These print with sugar and can make custom candies (featured at last year’s TED conference) or chocolates respectively.
XYZ Printers also had a big display of food printers. They were printing with cookie dough and cake icing in an impressive display of commercial food printing applications.
Makerbot also had some new composite filaments on display (iron, bronze, limestone, and maple) coming later this year but seemed to require a specific smart extruder in order to print with them which makes sense but gets costly quickly.
Voxel8 had an interesting ‘electronics’ printer that can print with traditional FDM plastic but also print the electronic traces inside the plastic print. The example they used was a micro-quadcopter that was fully wired inside the solid plastic frame:
This printer is also built on the SPARK platform.
Spectrom 3D had an interesting addon for FDM printers that allows you to print in color at a layer level, switching on the fly.
CES 2015 was insanely huge and a great experience for me…getting to meet and talk to many of the people in the 3DP space as well as seeing so many of the new advances all in one place. I definitely want to go next year.
Stay tuned for part two with a bunch of other things I came across at CES outside of the 3DP area.
See a ton more photos from CES 2015 on my Flickr.
Special thanks to Roam Mobility for keeping me online while travelling to Las Vegas.