Although named the Consumer Electronics Show, many of the 3,400 exhibitors in Las Vegas earlier this month had a product or service applicable to professionals in industry and the business world.
Since it is impossible to cover this sprawling international show during its 3.5 days, here are a few observations.
Eureka Park was the place to find startup ideas from around the world. It was set up to focus on innovative products, prototypes, or services seeking to be further funded and launched. Within this area was the University Innovations Marketplace One exhibitor, from the University of Southern California, was AIO Robotics Inc. (AIO is an acronym for “All In One”). They introduced their Zeus 3D printer for professional use which can scan, print, copy and fax a product using a simple, intuitive touchscreen. According to Jo Summers, Marketing Director, it costs US$2,500 and can be set up and running in just 10 minutes. PLA costs US$49 per kilogram.
AIO’s ZEUS with integrated scanning and printing; easy to use touchscreen
Compared to 2014, more than double the number of 3D printer manufacturers, as well as scanners and cloud-based printing services (e.g. France’s Sculpteo, Belgium’s Materialise) exhibited this year at another dedicated Marketplace.
Whether you are concerned about very fine resolution, large platform size, faster speed, diverse materials and colors, ease of use, or especially price, there were more choices available than ever before.
China based XYZ Printing had a major presence, showcasing a broad range of products ranging from a US$999 robot that can be used for security purposes, to a 3D printer to make food, to its newest da Vinci 1.0 all-in-one printer which will ship in the fall for $US799.
Rokit, a Korean company with the 3Dison (a play on Edison) line of traditional machines also introduced a 3D printer for chocolate, named Chocosketch. Sweet!
Chocolate printers from Rokit and 3D Systems; XYZ’s food printer
Not to be outdone, in addition to claiming the ability to print layers with a thickness of barely 1 micron (0.00004 inches!), 3D Systems (USA based) also introduced two printers that can revolutionize the food industry. In a partnership with the Hershey Company and the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), catering and baking possibilities will be expanded with the use of CocoJet and ChefJet Pro which can “print” chocolate objects and elaborate pastries. CIA’s VP, Dr. Victor Gielisse and Dean of Baking and Pastry Arts, Tom Viccaro demonstrated how aspiring chefs will create and decorate food using this technology. At some point soon, healthier ingredients such as vitamins and minerals might even be included.
The fine details of an object and a cupcake topping from 3D Systems printers
Matter and Form (previously known as Matterform and funded via Kickstarter) presented its new “scanner in a box” which can be closed up and easily carried anywhere. Objects up to 21 x 12 x 4.5 inches can be placed on its platform and be scanned in a matter of minutes. It sells for about US$600.
Another popular scanner, which won an Innovation Award and which was also funded by Kickstarter, was offered by Fuel3D. Its hand held device will sell for about $US1,500 and ship early this year.
MarkForg3D introduced the Mark One Composite 3D Printer, their solo product, as the first 3D printer capable of using carbon fiber, fiberglass and Kevlar. These materials are extremely hard and can be used to create functional as well as prototypical parts with many industrial uses. The price is $US 5,499. A Developer Kit with extra materials and features will cost $US8,799
Voxel8 offers a multi-material 3D electronics printer geared more toward professional engineers than consumers since it can make PLA objects along with circuits that are “printed” with conductive silver ink that can be (manually) inserted during the almost one-step process. A Developer’s Kit including materials will be offered later in 2015 for $US8,999.
Both the object (quadcopter) and the circuit being inserted into it were printed on the Voxel8.
While much attention focused on the introduction of their mini LulzBot 3D printer that sells for US$1,350, Aleph Objects also introduced TAZ, a 3D printer aimed at the industrial user with a price of US$2,200. Both offer completely open-source hardware and free software.
Airwolf 3D will sell its newest printer for about US$4,600 according to Erick Wolf, Founder and Chairman. He indicated that their 22+ materials were among the most durable and high quality available.
Erick Wolf of Airwolf3D
One of the more eye-catching 3D printers was shown by 3DPunlimited whose massive platform (1 meter x 1 meter x 0.5 meter!) is capable of producing very much larger objects than others at CES, e.g. a full-size engine block could be printed – but it would take 17 days. Their systems start at about US$20,000.
3DPunlimited’s platform can print engine block prototypes and other very large objects
Mcor Technologies can print using plain paper, thus significantly reducing the cost of producing multi-color models or prototypes to suit manufacturing and industrial needs.
Prototype of a hammer and illustration of colors printed from plain paper by Mcor
Ultimaker’s desktop 3D printer line competes against 3D Systems’s Cube line and Stratasys’ MakerBot unit. Their systems are based on open-source hardware designs and are priced from $1,450-$3,030. Two new models will go on sale in March.
Small printers pack a lot of features and quality (Ultimaker2, CubeDuo, MakerBot ReplicatorMini)
There were many shapes and sizes of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones that could be controlled by onboard computers or remotely by smartphone apps. Bret Gould, an Army veteran and Concept Designer at Trident Design, demonstrated a crash-proof video drone named Carbon Flyer which is being funded via crowdsourcing’s Indiegogo. He suggested that any UAV priced at under US$1,000 was more of a consumer toy. On the other hand, sophisticated, higher end durable devices equipped with cameras can be used by industry and the military for such tasks as safe, quick surveillance of weather-related or other disasters such as oil spills or fires, search and rescue, up close inspection of bridges and train tracks, or manufacturing facilities.
Bret Gould, Concept Designer at Trident Design
Visijax, an Innovation Awards honoree based in the UK, drew large crowds around its bright colored garments which contain embedded LED lights, some of which are activated to flash by sensors when a rider makes certain arm movements. Similar machine washable garments produced for emergency responders and police have 30 hour battery life in the lining along with gas and temperature sensors, a microphone, speakers and digital displays.
Visijax safety clothing for cyclists, firefighters and police
KnowRoaming, a Canadian company, launched a service that claims to save nearly 85% on international phone roaming fees and data usage for subscribers to its service. By purchasing bandwidth in bulk from global communications companies, they are able to pass along their savings to customers who attach a small sticker to the SIM cards in their unlocked smartphones.
Greg Gundelfinger, CEO of Knowroaming
The Netherlands based WindBlocker has developed a small foam cover for a smartphone or tablet to protect the microphone from wind during phone calls or video recordings. Creator Remco van Dijk indicated his item would retail at a low price (under $US10) and offer the opportunity to place a logo on the clip or the foam for use as a premium, e.g. at trade shows.
WindBlocker for smartphones
FOVE is a new company funded by Microsoft (who produces Xbox) that just released its proof of concept device at CES. Lochlainn Wilson, their CTO who was raised in Queensland, and now works in Tokyo, explained how this eye tracking head mount display can be used to take the place of a mouse and keyboard by people with restricted or no use of their hands. Of note, it is not related to Oculus (owned by Facebook). FOVE is planning to release a developer’s kit in early 2015. Its name derives from FOV (Field of Vision) and fovea (a part of the retina).
Lochlainn Wilson with FOVE’s brand new eye tracking head mount
ImpactGel’s David Swan, Director of Sales and Marketing, demonstrated the protective quality of its soybean-based shock absorbing gel with the help of a sledgehammer. He indicated a goal was to expand applications for their raw gel which comes in three forms and several thicknesses. Safety mats and packaging immediately come to mind as potential industrial uses.
Shock absorbing gel from ImpactGel
WhiteClouds, based in Utah, is a 3D printing service bureau. It can help designers, architects and others to design, prototype and produce models. Among other services, they can take an idea or CAD file and turn it into a functional prototype.
A model home and a futuristic city printed by WhiteClouds
The number of applications and business opportunities for the industrial and B2B markets who adopt the latest innovations exhibited at CES is limitless.