There are several companies right now such as MakerBot and 3D Systems that are producing lower-end 3D printers which make them accessible to a wide range of people. However, they will now have another printer to compete with that’s being made by Autodesk.
Autodesk has just recently announced that it is introducing a 3D printer that includes an open-software 3D printing platform which is called Spark. The printer along with the software platform will be available soon and are expected to be somewhere in the $5,000 range.
Autodesk is making it their goal to become the go-to provider for more advanced 3D printing enthusiasts in addition to those who utilize 3D printers for business reasons. The company stated that their software combined with the printer will “provide the building blocks that product designers, hardware manufacturers, software developers, and materials scientists can use to continue to explore the limits of 3D printing technology.”
It is estimated that the 3D printing market is currently worth around $2.5 billion, but is expected to reach as high as $16.2 billion in the next 5 years.
In terms of competition, the Autodesk has to content against MakerBot’s Replicator 2X which costs around $2,500 and the 3D System’s Cube 3 which is about $1,000. Despite the large price difference between these 3D printers and Autodesk’s latest addition, it is expected to give these other companies a good run for their money because of the number of additional programs they offer.
One of the things that Autodesk has is the 123D suite full of modeling tools which includes AutoCAD, which has been a mainstay for both designers and modelers since its initial introduction. A huge benefit of Autodesk is that their software and hardware are being sold with an “open and freely licensable” design, so that anyone can see exactly how it works, experiment with it, and make changes.
The reason for this is that they want people to be able to make improvements and continue to freely develop this fairly new technology. This is also a huge selling points as businesses who are looking to utilize 3D printing in their design and development have the ability to make modifications that will allow them to use their Autodesk 3D printer how they want and to make changes so that it will better suit their needs.