The demand for 3D printers is on the rise. But, if you don't have access to one, 3D printing can seem expensive and inefficient, holding back your design. Fortunately, out of this need is growing new innovation for making 3D printers available for anyone with a design. There's the 3D-printing vending machine model, the DIY 3D printer, and now there's a website to find nearby 3D printers for quick turnaround on printing jobs.
makexyz.com is a simple website that allows anyone with a 3D printer to rent out their services to anyone with printing needs. The site shows all the 3D printing options nearby, with the cheapest showing up first with all the details of the printer. Need to print with full color sandstone? This is your place.
The closest printer to me, for example, is a Prusa Mendel I2 that uses ABS Plastic in numerous colors. The price: 50 cents per cubic centimeter. If this worked for my design, I would upload the design to the website where it gives me a price that I pay right there (no money is exchanged between printer owner and designer). Then, once the printing is complete I can pick it up or have it shipped to me. Zak Stone reports for Fast Company that people with 3D printers have been eager to sign up:
Already, more than 500 printers around the [United States] have signed up--with everything from homemade printers, to Makerbots, to $30,000 professional machines.
It's a fantastic resource. Stone calls it "a Kinko's for 3D printing." And he could be on to something. Could FedEx Kinko's (or other printing service chains) become the "Kinko's of 3D printing?" With widespread stores already in place, a forward-thinking chain could make 3D printers available and more accessible. It probably wouldn't make sense to put them in every store, but 3D printers in big cities and college towns, at least to start, could really help evolve their printing chain's brand. But maybe makexyz, and other services, have beaten chains to the 3D printing demand, at least in these early stages of the technology.
[via Fast Company]