The hype surrounding 3-D printing is pretty intense these days. It was named one of the "biggest business trends" of 2012. And of 2013, for that matter. But we’re still a long way from the visions of prognosticators like Ray Kurzweil, who imagine a Star Trek-like future in which we’ll be able to fabricate a cup of coffee or a car from individual atoms. The desktop 3-D printers currently offered by Makerbot can produce small plastic knick-knacks and that’s about it.
But 3-D printing is getting better—or at least bigger. An Israeli company called Objet just released a new printer, the Objet1000, with a "build volume" of 1000 mm by 800 mm by 500 mm. That means it’s large enough to print a bike frame (like you can see above) or a comically large wrench:
The Objet1000, unveiled at the Euromold trade fair last month, has the same resolution regardless of the size of the project. That means it prints small objects and large objects with the same precision. It can also use a variety of different materials in the same job.
It isn’t the world’s largest 3-D printer. We’ve previously reported on the KamerMaker, which is big enough to print a house. But it is one of the largest 3-D printers that’s commercially available (if you have a spare $800,000). It was designed for 1:1 prototyping in projects that require lots of design iteration. Objet is pitching it to companies in the defense, aerospace, and consumer goods industries.
So 3-D printers still can’t make you a car, but they can help designers make a bike frame. And maybe that’s better anyway.