3D Printers heading for UK highstreet

Electronics superstore Maplins will become the first UK company to sell 3D printers aimed at the domestic market.

The Velleman K8200 is a build it yourself 3D printer kit that can produce objects up to a maximum size of 20x20x20cm, and use either PLA or ABS plastic filament as raw material which comes in a wide range of colours although the machine can only use one colour at a time.

The printer layers up the plastic to form a solid object. It melts plastic filament, then draws with it in a very fine layer. It then builds another layer of plastic on top, then another, and another, building your design in levels from the bottom up until you have a plastic object ready to hold and use. The printer comes with 5 metres of PLA to get you started and replacement cartridges will cost £29.99 per kg.

You can use products from Google SketchUp to AutoCAD to create your 3D models, and the printer is compatible with all free RepRap software and firmware and is supplied with Reperier-Host open-source software that runs on Windows, Linux and Apple software.

Retailing at £700 and available for pre-order, the device is being targeted at small design firms, schools and colleges as well as individual hobbyists.