Maplin has become the first British high-street retailer to sell a 3D printer, with the Velleman K8200 printer kit set to go on sale on 9 July.
Maplin said it selected the £699 printer in part because it must be assembled by the user, which the electronics retailer said fits with its ‘build-it-yourself ethos’.
The Velleman K8200 can print anything in an area of up to 20 cubic centimetres using a plastic raw material that’s available in black, white, blue, red, orange, green, yellow and pink, although only one colour can be used at a time. The printer comes with a roll of five metres of the plastic, and refills cost £29.99 per 1kg.
The printer builds up objects by layering 0.5mm-thick slices of plastic on top of each other. The Velleman K8200 would take about 30 minutes to print a simple object such as a mobile phone case, while more complex objects could take up to several hours.
“Until now, the cost of 3D printers limited their use to the professional market,” said Maplin commercial director Oliver Meakin in a statement. “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.”
The printer goes on sale in Maplin stores on 9 July, with a roughly 30-day wait for kits ordered via the company’s website.
3D printing has been around for decades, but until recently has been too expensive for use outside of industrial design and prototyping purposes.
The technology’s broadening appeal was signalled earlier this year when web-based publishing platform Blurb created a print-on-demand magazine called Print Shift devoted to 3D printing.
Last month Stratasys, a specialist in 3D printing and additive manufacturing, merged with US-baesd 3D printer company MakerBot, another sign of growth in the market.
The spread of 3D printers has also raised concerns over the fact that they can be used to create weapons, with a US law student last year distributing designs for printing a working handgun.
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