First Commercial 3-D Printers Hit UK Stores
3-D printers are being sold in stores in the U.K. for the first time, bringing the game-changing technology which enables users to print solid objects to the masses.
British electronics chain Maplin has seen high demand for the Velleman K8200 printer, which costs £699.99 ($1,047). It has already sold out online, and there is a 30-day wait for new stock.
Described as "super easy to use" by the company, the user can design and print objects that fit within its print area (20cm³), which could include anything from toys to bespoke prototype products. It takes around 30 minutes to print an object such as a smartphone case.
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The device, which is a similar size to a paper printer, works by reading a digital blueprint to build up thin layers of plastic to form a solid object.
Also known as "additive manufacturing," 3-D printing has – until now – been mainly confined to industry, with companies including Nike, General Electric and Ford already using the technology to build components.
Last month, online retailer Amazon launched a section of its website dedicated to 3-D printing, paving the way for growing numbers of consumers to access the technology.
Oliver Meakin, Maplin's commercial director, said the company selected the Velleman K8200 model because of its price point.
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"Until now, the cost of 3D printers limited their use to the professional market," he said. "However, the Velleman K8200 kit has enabled us to introduce 3D printing to the mass market."
But the technology has also come in for criticism after the world's first working gun – called The Liberator – was printed in Austin, Texas in May.
It sparked the development of new software which aims to restrict the manufacture of firearms by the devices.
-- By CNBC's Katrina Bishop. Follow her on Twitter @KatrinaBishop