Considerable advances have been made with both printing hardware and ink cartridges over the last few years, with modern devices boasting a wide array of features. People can use functions in the comfort of their own home that they would only have been able to dream about in previous years.

But it is not just technological advances that are moving certain features and capabilities into the mainstream. Printers have become far more affordable in the last few years, so options such as 3D printing are now realistically within many people's budgets.

Graham Bennett, managing director of, commented: "The price of printers is dropping quite dramatically.

"The machines that were being developed and being sold were very expensive."

Mr Bennett noted that about ten to 12 years ago, these devices tended to be laser-based printers. However, he said inkjet-type equipment is now able to print in 3D as well, which has helped this option become increasingly popular.

As a result, major companies in the printer industry are getting keen to embrace this trend and are starting to roll out 3D printers at highly affordable prices. This could herald further growth in the 3D printing market and see it move firmly into the mainstream.

"It's just on the cusp of becoming probably as big as it will get for the next three or four years," Mr Bennett stated.

He noted that in the past, a device capable of 3D printing would have been likely to cost in the region of £100,000 or more. However, he said big printer brands are becoming interested in rolling out machines that cost less than £1,000.

Mr Bennett said many of the latest devices make use of Google Sketchup and can interact with smartphone apps, so they can create 3D models of images such as photographs.

"The ease with which people are going to come across 3D images is going to increase," he added.