Whatever You Want

| October 12, 2000

Whatever You Want, Michael Brooks, New Scientist
Though it seems more like the sci-fi replicators in Star Trek than the next appliance, affordable 3D printers may be available in the not-too-distant future. Michael Brooks from New Scientist magazine dives into the various kinds of 3D printers that are currently on the market. The most common being the 3D ink-jet printer. It lays down droplets of hot plastic, and layer by layer builds the defined object. Soon, all it will take to create the subjects of your imagination is a mouse click and a flick of a switch. 'The US Army is developing ways to print out vehicle parts from a truck-mounted 3D printer, so stranded drivers can pick up vehicle parts made on the spot ... Archaeologists can beam the dimensions of a dinosaur bone from their site straight to museum-bound colleagues, who can print out a copy. And expectant parents have been given models of their unborn baby.' At $50,000 a pop, the only ones who currently have access to 3D printers are those in the US Army or working for big companies such as Boeing. That may change in the next few years, according to one of Brooks' sources. If any one of a number of companies start mass producing them, ordinary consumers could buy a 3D printer for less than $1600. -- Sara V. Buckwitz
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