Taipei, Aug. 26 (CNA) Local electronics conglomerate Kinpo Group unveiled Monday a three-dimensional printer priced as low as US$499 to tap into what it calls a promising industry.
The 3-D printer dubbed "da Vinci" will carry the brand name of XYZprinting Inc., a joint venture by two Kinpo subsidiaries -- Kinpo Electronics Inc. and Cal-Comp Electronics and Communications Co.
Other brands' products using the same fused filament fabrication (FFF) printing technology are currently priced at between NT$42,000 (US$1,403) and NT$66,000.
XYZprinting is ready to take online pre-orders for the new printer in September and to display the machine in stores of Vibo Telecom Inc., another Kinpo Group subsidiary, while actual sales will begin in Taiwan and China in December, said XYZprinting Chairman Simon Shen.
XYZprinting has set its global sales target of 3D printers at 1 million units over the coming three years, as the company plans to expand its distribution networks to the United States, Japan and Europe in the first quarter of 2014 by partnering with online stores and retailers there, he said.
"3-D printers are not almighty, but we believe that this technology will gradually replace people's day-to-day household item purchases," Shen said at a press conference to launch the new printer, adding that mid-range and high-end models are scheduled to be unveiled next year.
However, XYZprinting is not expected to turn a profit with its 3-D printers during the coming one-and-a-half years until the new technology gains more consumer traction, said Rock Hsu, chairman of the Kinpo Group, which owns the world's No. 2 contract notebook maker, Compal Electronics Inc.
3-D printing is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model.
3-D printing is already changing the design, prototyping and manufacturing processes in a wide range of industries, according to a report by market research firm Gartner Inc.
Enterprises should start experimenting with the technology to improve traditional product design and prototyping, as enterprise-class 3-D printers will soon be available for under US$2,000, the report said.
The technology will also become available to consumers via kiosks or print-shop-style services, creating new opportunities for retailers and other businesses, the report said.
"3-D printing is a technology accelerating to mainstream adoption," said Pete Basiliere, a research director at Gartner. "It is a technology of great interest to the general media, with demonstrations on science shows, on gadget websites and in other areas."
"We see 3-D printing as a tool for empowerment, already enabling life-changing parts and products to be built in struggling countries, helping rebuild crisis-hit areas and leading to the democratization of manufacturing," the analyst said.
(By Jeffrey Wu)