As consumers seemed to have made the decision to greatly cut back on printing at home, in large part due to the high cost of ink coupled with the general feeling there is less need to in the digital age, sales of personal printers declined sharply and the major printer manufacturers cut back on the release of new models.

Well, a funny thing happened on the way printing oblivion.

Unique and interesting niche printers are beginning to surface, such as the recent Kickstarter funded Zuta, a tiny, mobile printer that boasts of being able to print anywhere, anytime. Products like Fuji's instax Share Smartphone Printer, released earlier this year, and other products like it released in the last year should only fan these flames as a market for portable smartphone printers is apparently developing rapidly.

Add to this the fact the 3D printer market is stealing headlines as we're beginning to see refinements made to this technology that may be moving it closer to the mainstream very soon.

MakerBot, a pioneer in this tech having introduced the concept over four years ago, recently unveiled two new printers including a model called the Replicator Mini, a small tabletop unit the company explains was specifically designed as an entry-level 3D printer. Granted, you're looking at a price tag of roughly $1,375, but that price is certainly within reach for many more people compared to the prices we were seeing when this tech first emerged a few years back.

According to a recent IDC survey, the continued surge of smartphone and tablet adoption will create ripple effects that will encompass printing, scanning, document management, and print volumes in "surprising ways over the next five years."

Perhaps we are beginning to see the effects of that just starting to surface. Along with the aforementioned Zuta and Fuji products, as well as the potential mainstreaming of 3D printing, Polaroid, HP, VuPoint, and Yanko Design are just a few companies that have introduced product into this category in the last year or so.

"We're seeing the change on the pro side of the market as mobile imaging in moving in some very interesting and unexpected directions," said Jim Cummins, a professional photographer in New York. "Consumer attitudes toward printing in general are changing and I think part of it is the fact they just miss holding prints."

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