Microsoft has thrown its hat into the 3D printing ring by releasing new software on Windows 8.1, which allows users to design their own printable objects.
The vendor announced that its new 3D Builder application would be available on newly launched Windows 8.1, enabling users to create objects to be printed out. The app includes a built-in catalogue of objects including toys and ornaments, but users are able to create their own too.
Microsoft is one of a long line of firms looking to cash in on the 3D printing market, which is expected to really take off next year after a surge of interest throughout 2013. Gartner expects shipments of 3D printers to grow by three quarters annually next year – a figure that it reckons will double again by 2015.
The analyst predicted the technology's popularity will be driven by consumers, but channel businesses have also climbed on the 3D printing bandwagon recently, with distie Midwich having signed up with vendor 3D Systems.
Microsoft described its move into 3D printing as a step towards an "exciting new era".
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