Electronics retailer Maplin will sell the first 3D printer for home use in the UK, available in stores from July 9 and priced at £699.99.
The printer in question is the Velleman K8200 (see below for a promotional video), which will arrive in kit-form for customers to assemble (Maplin suggests that this will take around 10 hours) and comes with 5 metres of polylactic acid (PLA), the basic building material for the printer.
3D printers work by building up layers of plastic to form a solid object. Anyone can design objects using 3D modelling computer software, and many sites already exist (such as Shapeways) for individuals to share their creations.
The only limitation is the size of the Velleman’s build envelope, which is a relatively small 20cm x 20cm. This allows users to print small objects such as a chess set (piece by piece) or a phone case. Maplin say that objects will take approximately 30 minutes to print.
“We have been excited about 3D printing technology for a long time, as its principles of innovation and creation sit perfectly with what Maplin has been doing for over 40 years,” said Maplin Commercial director Oliver Meakin. "Until now, the cost of 3D printers limited their use to the professional market. However, the Velleman K8200 kit has enabled us to introduce 3D printing to the mass market.
"We selected this model primarily because it offers high performance printing at an affordable price, making it accessible to our customers. In addition, it requires assembly before use, which fits with the 'build it yourself' ethos so central to Maplin's heritage."