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We have all seen cool robotics before. The thing that makes this robot special is that it was printed from an open source file on a 3D printer.
Yes this is the extreme of 3D printing at the moment, but it's really quite amazing. I am fascinated with 3D printing. For those of you who have not seen a 3D printer, here is the MakerBot:
It prints a thin layer of plastic, layer on top of layer, hollow or solid to make up an object. You can change the type of plastic used, color and also nice biodegradable plastics made from either corn or, get this...milk!
You can scan objects, with one of these...
This allows you to scan an object then re-print it in plastic.
You might think this is all a bit geeky and hobbyist at the moment, and to a certain degree you would be right, however this is going to change our lives in a major way. Just as we buy music online, movies and TV shows online, products from Amazon and other e-retailers, we will buy files to print. Imagine wanting to have that cool knife block for your new high end kitchen knives, but don't want to pay postage, and wait for it to be sent through the mail. Just download the file, pay probably $5.00, and print it in whatever color you like. Change the decor of your kitchen, no worries, print a new one in a bright shiny new color and throw the other one away, (you printed it in bio plastic right?). You buy printable 3D files and print things at home...it's a whole new economy.
Want to get a new Buzz Lightyear for your kid, Disney should get into the business of selling toy files, ask daddy for it tonight before bed, wake up tomorrow and play with the toy! Break a piece on the toy, just reprint it.
The applications are immense, the ability to scale this type of printing into different materials amazing. Imagine in medicine if you broke a bone and needed a replacement. You don't get a standard replacement of a bone, you get a complete replica of the bone you broke!
Printers cost anywhere from $600 to $3,000 at the moment, BUT like all technology, as it gets adopted, you will see prices plummet. The question is...when should i get one?