Getting a presidential endorsement of technology from President Obama must be doing a lot for the 3D printing industry. MakerBot now uses an announcement that the President had made in his State of the Union Address, encouraging U.S. citizens to crowd-fund (is that now a verb?) the population of 3D printers in every high school in the U.S.
On Friday, Microsoft released its 3D Builder app, which allows Windows 8.1 users to print 3D objects, but does not offer much more functionality. The free app from Microsoft provides a basic way to print common 3D objects, as well as to import other files from SkyDrive or elsewhere. 3D Builder is so simple and rudimentary that it serves primarily as an introduction to the world of 3D printing.
This was the general idea, and Microsoft will be doing demos of MakerBot Replicator 2 at Microsoft retail stores over the weekend. MakerBot also announced a Windows 8.1 software driver on Thursday.
Microsoft customers can buy a new Windows 8.1 PC, as well as the $2199 MakerBot Replicator 2, at online and physical stores. Windows 8.1 3D Builders allows users to print 3D objects, but it is going to appeal mostly from businesses, rather than consumers. Business spending will account for the $325 million out of the $415 million that will be spent this year on 3D printing, according to the October Gartner report.
Now Staples carries 3D printers, which puts the technology right in front of the public, spurred along by President Obama’s enthusiasm. Perhaps the day when consumers will be manufacturing a lot of their own products will not be that far in the future, after all.