3-D printers ready for their close-up at 2014 CES

In the latest sign that 3-D printing is getting closer to the mainstream, organizers of the 2014 International CES reported yesterday that the technology will be highlighted in a new “3D Printing TechZone” at next year’s show. The annual Las Vegas-based consumer electronics show will feature 20 such market-specific zones.

The public profile of 3-D printing has been on the rise as the technology matures and becomes more affordable. We recently reported that Amazon.com added a designated section for 3-D printers, joining retailers like Staples in supporting the technology. CES, which is heavily reported on by both tech-focused and mainstream media, represents a high-profile opportunity to raise additional awareness.

The new area was initially slotted for 3,000 net square feet, but after quickly filling up, it was expanded by more than 25 percent to 4,400 net square feet of space. It currently features nine exhibitors, with big names like 3D Systems, Makerbot Industries, Sculpteo and Stratasys Inc. already on board.

“Exhibitor demand really drove our decision to formalize this 3D Printing TechZone, as it’s quickly becoming one of the more dynamic and innovative categories within our industry, while also becoming more accessible to consumers from a price perspective,” Karen Chupka of CES said in a statement. “The sell-out response to this TechZone speaks to the strong interest in this category and the desire from leaders in the field to showcase their new products on the CES show floor.”

Organizers say the TechZone will showcase a variety of applications for additive manufacturing, including prototype use in the medical, aerospace, engineering and automotive industries as well as more consumer-friendly desktop printing options.

The 2014 CES is scheduled to run Jan. 7-10.

[ photo courtesy of the Consumer Electronics Association ]