While some wonder skeptically why Apple would want to make an entry into the 3D printing market and how they would pull it off full-force, we’ve just been waiting patiently, assuming they have some great secret stuff all hush hush and under wraps as usual. It would certainly seem that they have the potential for taking command of this market and its consumers.
This was the thought churning in my mind recently at our local library as I was returning the latest Stephen King novel in overdue shame, quickly becoming waylaid again watching elementary-school students in full command of a pretty luxurious 3D printing lab. A confident and completely unsupervised young girl perused Thingiverse from one of many shiny, new Mac desktops, while her BFF bounced around happily behind her, making suggestions for their next 3D model. Had someone from Apple been watching this scene, surely they could envision monopolizing such an operation with a vibrant and comprehensive Apple 3D printing lab. With the younger generations on board for both Apple and 3D printing, it surely seems like an innovative win-win, as they say in the marketing biz.
So why is Apple taking so long, and what are they doing regarding 3D printing anyway? As we reported recently, we do know that they’ve filed for yet another patent, with this latest being a concept for a multi-color 3D printer that should knock everyone’s socks right off–and perhaps cause some other manufacturers to lose major sleep at night too. Said to ‘paint’ your 3D print for you as you watch, this latest concept is ripe with details and information within the patent application, but much more so with public speculation. And from Apple? The usual crickets.
While some people sit back and wonder, chitchat, and guess what might happen, designers like Martin Hajek put their imaginations and own passion for invention to work in real form. Hajek, an Apple fan extrordinaire and very talented designer in his own right, has impressed us from the 3D printer previously with pre-release iPhone iterations. He sees his mission as ‘visualizing the future in 3D one rendering at a time.’
Now, Hajek has truly gone above and beyond with his ‘iPrinter’ concept. Offering us a topical glimpse at how he sees the Apple 3D printer looking, Hajek has created a 3D model boasting an undeniably sleek and classic design that we might think hailed from Cupertino if we didn’t know better.
“…I asked myself the question; what could such a printer look like but more importantly–why should Apple enter this market?” muses Hajek. “Would it be to sell the printers themselves, or even to sell the resins or filaments for the printers? How about this; what Apple did for music with iTunes and for applications with the app-store – can they do it for 3D printing with a 3D-model store? Now that’s an interesting thought…”
Definitely following the cube concept, the iPrinter is quite reminiscent of my iPhone wall charger magnified and come to life with a slightly different form and much greater imagined function. A small screen looking identical to the iPad or iPhone sits atop a small tower hovering over the build plate, suggesting a platform that would be user-friendly–most certainly the case for familiar Apple fans getting ready to go to town as makers.
As soon as there is a hint of something new in the works with Apple (as well as other tech titans), Hajek is the source to consult. From the iPhone to the iWatch, Apple TV, and more, Hajek’s renowned renderings give us all something to go on while we wait, and perhaps somewhere out there in the spiritual beyond of the technogeek universe, Steve Jobs is cracking a slight smile of amusement and maybe even reluctantly offering up some points for enthusiasm.
As for 3D printing, only time will tell whether Apple is actually planning to enter the industry–or just making tools for internal consumption, to be left unshared. Could any f these concepts become a reality? Let us know your thoughts in the Apple 3D Printer forum thread on 3DPB.com.