Hewlett Packard plans to takes its printing devices to a whole new dimension - literally - with the release of a line of relatively affordable 3D printers.

As reported over on Wired.com, the printers - capable of creating fully three-dimensional objects from meshes created in software like Google's Sketchup or the open-source Blender - are designed to be significantly cheaper than their competition, bringing 3D printing capabilities to design houses that a current struggling along on old-fashioned two dimensional devices.

Sadly for anyone hoping to snag one of these puppies for their home - perhaps with the dream of creating custom Lego bricks to finally finish those sadly impossible creations - the key word in the opening paragraph is relatively: the devices are expected to compete with current devices such as those offered by rival manufacturer Stratasys for $15,000 (£9,200).

While HP hasn't yet confirmed its selling price, it's likely to be in the thousands rather than the hundreds: a great sell for businesses looking to offer bespoke design or prototyping services, but a long way away from becoming a feature of every home.

Thankfully, other innovators are stepping up to fill the gap: from the completely DIY RepRap, which is built on the von Nuemann-esque concept of a 3D printer capable of printing other 3D printers, to the kit-form MakerBot which offers an open-source alternative to HP's new range with kits starting at just $750 (£460).

Can you imagine a killer app for a 3D printer in the home, or will it always remain a toy for big businesses to use? Wondering how you can convince your boss you need one of HP's new devices, or do you have your eye on a MakerBot for home? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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