Here is an interesting early arrival in the coming boom of 3D printing.
A 6-inch, full color statue costs about $300 – $400 USD, which they scan and print off-site. The statues are made of a plastic resin with full-color print, relatively realistic phototexturing.
What is interesting about this is that they offer the service from a kiosk in the mall. I found this one at the Mall of the Emirates, in Dubai, which sells the typical range of other tourist items, such as crystal buildings, custom printed mobile phone covers, your face in a crystal cube, etc. Although the process isn’t instant, it is presented just like any other retail item you would buy in the mall. In other words, the relatively strange and unusual technology of 3D printing is already leaking into mainstream life with total fluidity.
Here is how it works. First, they take you to their studio facility just across the street from the Mall. Then, they scan you in a process which takes about 15 to 20 minutes to take several shots. Then the technician cleans the data in front of you, and the model is sent to the printer next door. According to the website, printing “takes 4 to 6 hours to complete… followed by an additional 1.5 hours of curing.” It is then “dipped in a special glue solution to harden the surface” in a process which, start to finish, takes about 8 to 10 days.
The site doesn’t mention what kind of printer they are using, but the promotion video looks like they are using a ZCorp 650, which costs about $60,000 USD. This is one of the standard machines used by Shapeways, for example. Material costs are about 20 cents (USD) per cubic centimeter, so the TIM service is clearly a money maker.
Quite an impressive demonstration of 3D printing in the consumer market. The resolution of the prints is not fantastic, but the marketing and targeting is. This press release indicates that Precise Concepts has also partnered with a toy manufacturer in the region, although it isn’t clear if they are actually manufacturing toys with their printers. In any case, the TIM service makes them one of the leaders in 3D printing in the region, in my opinion, and an exciting indicator of bigger things to come.
More photos and the company’s promotional video can be found below.