Twenty-six years later the company is making waves in the 3D printing realm not for its innovations in industrial manufacturing, but in developing that technology for the consumer market. "The goal is to make 3D printing fun," Turner says of the Cube, the company's at-home 3D printer, which he developed from the ground up. So how does it work? Similar to how a standard printer lays ink onto a page, the Cube layers melted plastic to build an object in three dimensions. This is what it looks like when it's on (you'll notice that the stylus moves back and forth just like an inkjet printer):
In addition to making the printer that creates objects, 3D Systems also developed easy-to-use software that allows users to easily "sculpt" objects or create 3D objects from photographs or video. Here's how:
What the company has done is help democratize design, bringing simple manufacturing tools into the DIY and Maker communities and consumer market. Just as computing moved from business into homes in the 1980s and revolutionized the industry, "personal printing" is undergoing a similar transition. 3D Systems bills the device as a means for personal expression and a way to educate children about design, manufacturing, and technology. Time will tell if the technology takes off.