The fall in the prices for these units is part of what is so stunning and promising about these devices. MakerBot is now selling fully assembled units of its Thing-O-Matic 3D Printer (gotta love the names for these things) for just $2,500. eMAKER had a special promotional offer of just $475 for kits of its Huxley RepRap. And a new entry called the Ultimaker is apparently more compact and faster than the Thing-O-Matic, can print larger objects and sells for $1,700 plus shipping. Wohler Associates, a consulting firm that tracks additive manufacturing, foresees that 3D printers costing only $75 or so could be making children’s toys in a few years.
Yet Wohler also questions whether fabbers will really become common home appliances any time soon: even if the price seems right, most consumers may not have the skills or interest sufficient to maintain and operate the devices—especially not if conventional manufacturers and fab-for-hire services can provide desired products more easily and at a desirable price.
Enter P2P manufacturing marketplaces.