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First mass-market 3D printer goes on sale for £700

A 3D printer in action last year. Maplin have unveiled the first mass-market printer at a cost of �700. Picture: PA

A 3D printer in action last year. Maplin have unveiled the first mass-market printer at a cost of �700. Picture: PA

Electronics retailer Maplin has become the first high street store to sell a 3D printer to consumers.

The Velleman K8200 is being sold at the chain for £700. Up until now, such devices were only available online for between £1,800 and £10,000.

The device has been hailed as the first step in a manufacturing revolution, with a wide variety of everyday applications already touted for the printer.

The printer comes with Repetier software for product design and five metres of polylactic acid - 3mm plastic wire used to assemble objects designed by the user.

Simple items such as mobile phone cases would take a matter of minutes to put together, while more complicated designs such as jewellery would take several hours.

3D printer technology has not been without its controversies - Cody Wilson, head of US firm Defense Distributed, attracted criticism from anti-gun lobbyists after producing a working gun using 3D printer technology.

Other applications have been more widely welcomed - musical instruments, including flutes and acoustic guitars, have already been constructed with the pioneering equipment.

Reports of more complex items such as functioning SLR cameras and bicycles made using the printer have also surfaced.

More incredibly, an 83-year-old woman last year became the first woman to receive a replacement lower jaw assembled using a 3D printer.

Designed by Belgian metal parts manufactuerer LayerWise, the operation has been heralded as the tip of the iceberg for the medical community, who one day hope to print human tissue, bones and organs with such devices.

3D printer technology has also made an impact in fashion circles - bikinis, dresses and high heels have already made appearances on catwalks. Dutch designer Iris van Herpen recently unveiled ornate shoe designs manufactured solely with 3D printers.

 

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