Target joins burgeoning industry with 3-D printed holiday gifts

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Unsure what to get your loved ones this holiday season? Why not print something for them.

Target thinks you'll be interested.

The Minneapolis-based company announced it is offering a line of 3-D printed jewelry and ornaments by teaming with Shapeways, an online 3-D printing marketplace and service.

Customization options allow shoppers to pick the material used – nylon, steel, bronze, brass or silver – and to choose a personalized message or monogram to be etched into the item. It's then delivered in two to three weeks. Click here to see the full line of items available.

Target is one of the first major retailers to wade into the 3-D printing market, an industry which some experts expect to grow rapidly.

CNBC reported independent research company Canalys predicts humungous financial growth for the 3-D printing industry over the next four years – to $16.2 billion by 2018. The company estimated the sector was worth about $2.5 billion in 2013.

"[3-D printing] has now moved from a new and much-hyped, but largely unproven, manufacturing process to a technology with the ability to produce real, innovative, complex and robust products," said a Canalys spokesperson in a press release, according to CNBC.

Amazon launched a 3-D print section this past summer, with a modest collection of toys and games available for purchase. Most of the items are smaller knick-knacks, such as jewelry, bobbleheads and phone cases. Some of them are customizable.

But really, the technology – especially as a mass-market product – is still in its infancy.

The Washington Post recently detailed HP's plans to shift from only selling its traditional printers to adding 3-D printing technology, in an attempt to be ahead of the curve. But such a product being available for home purchase is still a ways off it seems.

As Wired notes however, attempts at printing body parts, guns, shoes and more have already been made.

If you're still curious, here's a video from Shapeways explaining how the printing works.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=BTTnaI4EYnY

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