3D printers make landfall as Officeworks delivers first

Printing pretty pictures on paper may have been the thing to do ten or twenty years ago, but this year, Australians can move the power of printing to the third dimension, and Officeworks has the goods to prove it.

Moving beyond the 2D flat print, 3D printers do what they sound like: print 3D objects using materials as a sort of “printer ink.”

Most of this “ink” is actually a form of ABS plastic (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), though PLA plastic (polylactic acid) is also available, and together with these special plastic cartridges, the printer melts the plastic into place, gradually creating a physical object in real time.

Print time isn’t as immediate as a photo on paper, and depending on how complicated or bulky the object is, it can take minutes to hours.

But you can’t just load these special plastic cartridges into your regular inkjet or laser printer, though, and need a special 3D printer for that, and for the first time in Australia, one has arrived in a retail store.

Produced by 3D Systems, the Cube 3D printer is a $1499 printer that takes $60 plastic cartridges and prints 3D objects from computers.

One of the first 3D printers to hit the consumer market overseas, it can be used to print all manner of things, and files can be download from the Cubify store to print, including smartphone cases, while 3D software can be used to make 3D objects that can be printed, too. Some of the files used for making physical objects are even supplied free, with 25 included with purchase of the printer.

“The Cube printer is a 3D printer for everyone,” said Toby Watson, Technology Business Manager at Officeworks.

“It’s easy to use, and helps you turn your big ideas into tangible objects you can hold. Whether it’s to bring to life your design course work, show concepts to clients, or create something unique for fun, Cube 3D Printers have you covered.”

The release of the Cube 3D printer comes on the heels of Adobe adding 3D printing to its Photoshop software, too, while Microsoft’s Windows also added support for the technology in the latest Windows 8.1 update.

With these two news items, and the arrival of local 3D printers, it’s clear that 3D printing isn’t going anywhere, and is shaping up to be a hot area not just for businesses, but also for students and consumers keen to be creative with more than just printed paper.

“At Officeworks, we’re really excited to see where our customers take the Cube 3D Printer as they explore the limitless range of creative, boundary-pushing designs available,” said Watson.

“We encourage everyone to get involved as it’s never been easier to bring your big ideas to life.”

The 3D Systems Cube 3D printer is available at Officeworks stores across the country, as well as online, for $1499, with plastic cartridges available for $60 each.