I stopped by the UPS shop in Kingston yesterday to have a document notarized. A 3D printer sat on a cabinet in the back. I hadn't realized that 3D printing had made this serious an impact at the retail level. Check out the UPS promo video for this service. The Kingston store featured a Stratasys uPrint SE 3D printer, pictured below.
This is a much larger printer than the Makerbot consumer models that I've seen for sale in Staples and Office Depot. Those Makerbot units sell for about $1,500. The uPrint's chamber is big enough to print an object 8" x 6" x 6". So, I'm guessing that the uPrint costs more than $5,000. (Stratasys carefully avoids mentioning price on its webpage.)
Printing supplies for the uPrint are quite expensive. 3D printers employ a feed of plastic filament to build the desired object. A single roll of this filament is about 50 bucks. I have no idea how rapidly a 3D printer consumes a roll of filament. Filament is available in a wide variety of colors.
3D printing is currently being pitched to consumers as a method for prototyping small parts and knick-knacks. While this is a good thing, I think that 3D printing will have to target a much larger market to be successful. What market would that be?
If I were a young man, I'd hustle my ass off to get as deeply involved as possible in 3D printing. Money, fame, glamour, power... it's all there in an industry that is still in its infancy!