Microsoft has announced that an upcoming update to Windows 8 will have built-in support for 3D printing. The company promises Windows 8.1 will provide everyone with easy-to-use 3D printing capabilities that rival printing a simple document from Word.
This news should come as no surprise as 3D printing is now all the rage. Microsoft is hoping that this new update will make 3D printing more viable with their software. Windows 8.1 will come with new drivers that will understand 3D file formats as easily as 2D printing formats. Users will also be able to print their own 3D sculptures from imagery captured by — you guessed it — Kinect.
Basically, Microsoft is betting on 3D printing to go mainstream. Of course, desktop 3D printing will not replace mass production, but it will allow individual users to make their own custom creations at home. For example, why print out an ugly greeting card when you can create a customized trophy or sculpture as a gift? Or even better, why wait for a part to ship for a broken home appliance when you can just print one at home? Do you have a door with a busted hinge? No problem — just print one out and fix it.
Like all technology, prices for consumer 3D printers are beginning to drop. With systems now starting at around $800, 3D printing has become less fantasy and more reality for the masses. The idea of home 3D printing is definitely a cool and realistic concept. Let’s hope Microsoft has made a better decision here than with its many missteps with its Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system.
Windows 8.1 is scheduled to make an appearance later this year.