At the last TEDxLeuven I was gratefully surprised: I found out about Materialise, a world leader and pioneer in industrial 3D printing, which comes out of Belgium. One more of the leading tech companies that not so many people have ever heard about, but which is responsible for the printing of most personalized ear implants in the world.
Luckily for me they had a stand at MultiMania and I got a chance to talk with them and to hold and examine some of the printed objects they had with them. I also got a chance to learn about a new service they have launched to allow everybody to print their own 3d designs just by uploading the file with the data and choosing the materials: iMaterialise.
One of the first things that caught my attention was that they were printing with metals. It is not like melt the metal, what they do is use a mixture of metal and resine that can be used for printing. Most of the users are probably going to be professional designers building prototypes and refining them before they go into production, but this is also a cheap and easy way to start printing your own creations just to enjoy your own art or to make very personalised gifts.
You can also sell your design in their platform on iMaterialise and make some money with your art. There are not a whole lot of objects in their gallery yet, and I wonder if they can leverage some positive network effects to attract both creators and buyers. But still it is a great initiative and some of the pieces showcased are truly impressive.