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Officeworks claims local 3D printer first Featured

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Big-box retailer Officeworks says the addition of the 3D Systems Cube 3D printer to its range makes it the first Australian retailer to sell 3D printers in selected stores and online.

Like most entry-level 3D printers, the Cube 3D works by melting a plastic filament and depositing the material to build an object in successive layers.

The maximum size of the finished object is 140 x 140 x 140mm.

The time needed to produce an object depends on its size and complexity, but as a guide Officeworks officials said an average smartphone case takes around two hours.

25 designs are provided with the printer, and others are available for purchase or as free downloads from sites such as Cubify.

For those who want to create their own designs, software such as Cubify Invent (US$49) will do the trick. The Cube 3D accepts standard STL files as input.

The Cube 3D is available from Officeworks in white, silver, magenta or blue (only the first two are available in stores), and costs $1499.

Cartridges of filament cost $60 each, and are available in two materials and a range of colours.

ABS (as used to make Lego bricks and car bumpers) comes in red, blue, white or silver, while PLA (a biodegradable plastic) is offered in black or white.

"The Cube printer is a 3D printer for everyone – it's easy to use, and helps you turn your big ideas into tangible objects you can hold," said Officeworks technology business manager Toby Watson.

"Whether it's to bring to life your design course work, show concepts to clients, or create something unique for fun, Cube 3D printers have you covered," he said.

A speaker at last year's CeBIT conference predicted devices such as the Cube 3D meant "3D printing will be in every school within the next year and every home probably in the next 5 years".

Gartner has forecast 2014 global unit shipments of sub-US$100,000 3D printers will reach 98,065 - up 75% on its 2013 prediction.

Gartner has also predicted that 3D printing will result in a global loss of at least US$100 billion per year in intellectual property by 2018.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences, a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies, and is a senior member of the Australian Computer Society.

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