The Canalys research group says that the 3D printer market will see significant growth. I don’t expect Apple to build its own 3D printers, but a newly granted patent (number 20150343704) for a “method and apparatus for three dimensional printing of colored objects” shows the company is working on support for such printers.
According to the patent, a 3D object may be produced and colored by a 3D printer using the same digital 3D model. The digital model for a desired 3D object may be revised to include a process for coloring the object by the 3D printer. In one embodiment, this may involve coloring to the object after it has been made.
What’s more, color could be added as the object is being made. Because the 3D model provides knowledge of the surface, contours and all the coordinates of the 3D object being printed, the object can be colored using the same digital model.
In the patent filing, Apple notes that, while 3D printing technology has been around for many years, it has not until recent years that the printers have become widely available commercially. As a result of their wide availability, applications for 3D printing have been extended to architecture, construction, automotive, engineering, dental and medical industries. To extend the use of 3D printers to more industries and encourage more household use, Apple wants “ to improve the 3D printing technology to make objects that are more versatile and useful to an everyday consumer.”