Not all 3D printers are created equal. Mcor separates themselves from the pack very clearly by creating 3D parts with paper. This modern day origami machine puts down layer after layer of regular sheet paper, cutting each one into the cross section required. Because paper is so common and inexpensive Mcor boasts a lower relative material cost than pretty much any other additive manufacturing machine. A partnership with Staples has helped them pilot a program that gets the Iris into an accessible place (ie. Staples stores) and allows printing as a service. The combination of these low cost materials and accessibility put the Iris in an enviable position. Of course the use of paper is partially limiting – it obviously does not have the same material properties as plastics or metals – but for many uses it is sufficient.
If Mcor can succeed in bringing down the cost and size of the machine the possibilities are even broader. Direct use of paper and the ability to print in color means that the Iris could theoretically function as an everyday printer. It would be great if the handy office printer used to churn out presentations could also, in line with other print jobs, create a 3D model for use in the same presentation. To date these machines do not compete directly in the consumer space, again given the current size and cost they are primarily targeted at businesses. As the team at Mcor further develops the technology it will be interesting to see where they can place these paper printers.
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