This year we've already seen a number of companies make it easier to purchase desktop 3D printers. Staples now sells 3D printers, as does Amazon. And, just last week, Makerbot, which makes popular desktop 3D printers, was acquired by the much larger Stratasys in hopes of growing the market for desktop 3D printing.
Now Microsoft is doing its part to encourage the use of 3D printers.
Microsoft announced that its new Windows 8.1 update will have built-in support for 3D printing. It will be the first operating system to natively support 3D printing. Which means: "Making a 3D object on your PC will be as easy as writing a document in Word and sending it to print," said Shanen Boettcher, General Manager of the Startup Business Group at Microsoft, on Microsoft's blog. "Just as desktop publishing transformed how we write, we think desktop manufacturing will transform how we create."
New features for the Windows 8 update will include a driver model for 3D printers and an API so that developers can build 3D printing into their apps. (More features here.)
With this announcement Microsoft is betting on a future in which 3D printing from home goes mainstream. As more companies share this vision and produce products for it, the likelihood that this vision will become a reality grows stronger.
Photo: Flickr/Matt Westervelt