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Best of CES Emerging Tech: 3D Systems CubeX 3D printer

Among other new and not-yet-common tech, a powerful new 3D printer has the most potential to drive its field forward.

Rich Brown/CNET

LAS VEGAS--Sight tracking sounds like a new PC interface we might actually use. And anything that helps push wireless charging forward will get our attention. But of all the still-developing technologies we saw at CES, it's the 3D Systems CubeX 3D printer that has us the most excited.

Makerbot announced its own new printer, the Replicator 2X, at this year's show. It's a fine-looking machine, and its print quality looks superb. 3D Systems got the nod for a nomination because its CubeX does things we haven't seen before in a consumer-approachable 3D printer.

Now playing: Watch this: CubeX 3D printer prints big objects

The CubeX can print objects in up to three different colors. It can also print a single object made from two different kinds of plastic. It also lets you build the largest objects in its category. Those features are all unique.

What we also love about the CubeX is that it's upgradable. If you don't want to drop $3,999 on the three-color version, you can always buy the $2,499 single-color model and upgrade later.

Will everyone have a 3D printer one day? Maybe. The more immediate likelihood is that desktop 3D printing will put object-making into the hands of many different kinds of professional and non-professional users, at a semi-affordable price.

We will certainly see more of these devices enter the market over the next few years, and with them will come new capabilities and new methods of printing. They still need improved affordability and ease of use before they crack through to the mainstream. Considering the level of consumer interest, as well as the ever-growing field of 3D printer manufacturers, it won't be too long before this exciting technology finds its tipping point.