Shift away from basic plastic 3D printing seen at CES show

A trend involving introducing new 3D printing filaments was observed at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The Verge reports that there was a discernible shift among 3D printing exhibitors, “apparent across the show floor.”

Examples included metal, composite and carbon fibre filament offerings, as well as a number of carbon fibre feedstock offerings. 3DSystems previewed its CocoJet chocolate 3D printer at the show.

“It’s like you can print anything you want, as long as it’s made of plastic,” said Dr. Jennifer A. Lewis, the founder of Voxel8, which unveiled a new printer able to lay out parts in PLA plastic and conductive silver ink. She was commenting at the show about the prevailing attitude among those using additive manufacturing.

“But if you want to take 3-D printing to the next level, we have to have the material sets to do that,” she added.

Another printer manufacturer, MakerBot (which was acquired by Stratasys in 2013) announced a range of new materials (and extruder heads required to print them) at CES.

The new varieties of PLA plastic composite printer feedstocks – to be available later this year – emulate the appearance and finish of limestone, maple wood, iron and bronze, according to the company.

“The new filaments are heavier and dry to a different texture, but they're designed to behave roughly the same as previous models, giving users the chance to add new weight and texture to old designs,” reports The Verge.

Image: MakerBot