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January 19, 2015

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,event,review — Terry Wohlers @ 08:20

The year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was January 6-9 in Las Vegas, Nevada. It involved 3,600 exhibitors and 204,387 sq meters (2.2 million sq feet) of exhibit space. More than 170,000 people attended the event, including 45,000 from outside the U.S. I was present for 1.5 days, and one full day was dedicated to a 3D printing conference presented by TCT + Personalize magazine. The conference was well organized and attended, and it included a wide and interesting mix of people. Those that I met were serious professionals.

I was surprised by the number of new 3D printing products on display, coupled with the scale of some of the exhibits. New material extrusion machines (i.e., FDM clones) were everywhere. MarkForged showed its interesting Mark One machine. To strengthen parts, the $5,500 product uses Kevlar, carbon fiber, or fiberglass, and nylon as the base material. I was impressed by the quality of the parts. Coincidentally, I was present when USA Today shot this video.

3D-printed parts that include Kevlar, courtesy of MarkForged

Voxel8 introduced its multi-material 3D printer for producing integrated electronics. The $9,000 product deposits PLA and conductive ink. Harvard professor Jennifer Lewis is the head of the startup company. Autodesk is partnering with Voxel8 on the development of design software called Project Wire. It is being produced from the ground up to support the design of 3D-printed electronics.

Autodesk had a large and impressive 3D printing exhibit that featured Ember, Spark, and Project Wire. Ember is Autodesk’s new photopolymer-based 3D printer that uses DLP technology for high resolution imaging. Autodesk is also developing Spark, which is an open and free platform that promises to connect digital data to 3D printers in a new way.

CES was overly crowded with people and traffic, and Vegas is not one of my favorite places to visit. Also, I was disappointed to learn that Uber’s app-based, car transportation network was temporarily banned in Nevada’s highly regulated taxi industry. Even so, CES had a lot to offer, and the 3D printing exhibits were larger and more elaborate than I had expected. Overall, it was interesting and worthwhile.

Best Products of 2014

January 3, 2015

Filed under: review — Terry Wohlers @ 15:24

The last time I published a “best products” blog commentary was in December 2010, so it’s time to do it again. The following are some of the products from the recent past that stand out.

HP Officejet Pro 8600 – We purchased this all-in-one printer/copier/scanner in June 2014 for $128. (I do not recall how we got this price because it’s now available at Amazon for $249.) The wireless device prints and copies beautifully. The sheet feeder works flawlessly and the scanner is fast. Excellent product.

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Touch laptop – I purchased it in May 2014 for $1,720. The touch screen is helpful when wanting to quickly zoom in and out on emails and other screens. I especially like how thin it is, yet the screen is relatively large. Another good product.

Hive Bass – I received this beautiful product in August 2013, but did not spend a lot of time with it until 2014. It looks and sounds great, thanks to the design talent of Olaf Diegel.

Hive Bass designed and manufactured by Olaf Diegel

Tumi Alpha Laptop Brief – This bag became my “portable office” in July 2014, and it has since traveled more than 100,000 miles (161,000 km) with me. Tumi makes excellent products, although they are not inexpensive.

Samsung 55-inch (140-cm) LED Smart TV – Other than two internal hard drives, this is only our second Samsung product, and it is living up to the company’s reputation. We purchased it for $830, and the quality is excellent.

Vizio 32-inch (81-cm) LED Smart TV – This is our first Vizio product and we like it better than the Panasonic that it replaced. For $290, it was a good buy. Vizio is an American company based in Irvine, California.

Best wishes to you for a great 2015!