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Tech Bytes - Printing in 3-D

By Mitchell Walbridge

Fri, Jul 12th, 2013
Posted in All Columnists

Printing in 3-D

Today we can watch movies in 3-D, we can buy three dimensional television services, we can even buy 3-D, real life greeting cards, but what if we could print in three dimensions in our own home office? Well, to no surprise, you actually can.

Three dimensional printers are now on the market. As they are currently more in the developing stages, they’re not used to make entire replicas of objects yet, but they can make pieces of a larger object. A few months ago NBC’s Today Show did a technology segment on how these new printers work.

Basically, by utilizing digital technology, the printer creates visual blueprints of the object that it is copying. Cross sectional images are created in the system’s memory in order for the copier to refer back and mold the shape.

These printers are not necessarily a new idea from the 21st Century. The first three dimensional printer ever recorded to have existed dates back to the early 1980’s. Since then they have come a long way.

Most recently, according to the New York Times, researchers of 3-D printers have created an new, more flexible material to make even more oddly shaped objects. The new material is a metal, an alloy of gallium and indium in fact. It comes with a price tag however, at about 100 times the price states the Times. Right now, the printers most frequently utilize a plastic.

The printers themselves are not in the price range of a regular printer either. However, it should be noted that the price on these has declined significantly. If you’re in the market for something like this invention, expect to pay $800 minimum for these kinds of products. However, the more high end span into the thousands of dollars. But it may be worth it to just copy that extra part, rather than buy a new one, right?

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