Staples has become the first retailer to announce wide availability of 3D printers in its stores. The Massachusetts-based company will begin carrying the Cube 3D Printer from 3D Systems immediately on its website and in a limited number of stores by the end of June. Investing in a 3D printer isn't like buying a plain-old ink jet, as the Cube 3D Printer will start at $1,299 (£834).
For those unfamiliar with 3D printing, it's technology that's recently begun making its way down to consumers, allowing them to create shapes or objects using melted plastic. We've seen some pretty cool stuff recently, including a do-it-yourself Lumia 820 case. In some sketchy parts of the internet land, 3D printers have even been used to craft guns.
MAKE magazine has voted the Cube 3D Printer the easiest to use. It prints in 16 different colours, has the ability to connect to Wi-Fi,and comes with Cube software that preps your files for printing. There are also 25 free 3D templates with the printer, but we'd imagine you can find some much cooler ones available online (Thingiverse looks to be one of the best places). The Cube can print 5.5 x 5.5 x 5.5-inch (140mm x 140mm x 140mm) designs, in either ABS or compostable PLA plastic.
Obviously, a 3D printer isn't for everyone, but if you find yourself with a little extra cash lying around and a knack for designing, it may be just for you. A Cubify Invent software is also sold separately with which to create your own designs.
While very consumer friendly, the Cube isn't as advanced as some other solutions on the market. Makerbot is one of the more well-known 3D printing companies, which sells its MakerBot Replicator 2X online and in its New York retail store for $2,799. Makerbot's founder Bre Pettis recently called 3D printing the "the next industrial revolution".
The Cube 3D Printer is now available on Staples for $1,299 in classic silver, white, magenta, blue or green. Replacement plastic cartridges start at $49.99 each, with each printed design costing about $5 on average.
Check out our hands-on with the Cude 3D Printer at CES 2012.