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3D printers took a major step towards the mainstream this week, after a low-cost open source device which can print in metal arrived on the market. But it’s just the latest in a series of developments that followed since the technology was first imagined in the latter half of the 19th century.
Matrix printers produce words and images by building up lines of dots. 3D printers take this into a third dimension by building solid objects from layers of material. The dream is that this will bring a new era of manufacturing, where you make your own objects at home – from phones to food – using publicly available designs. Since the idea was born, the race has been on to make it a reality.
Hardcore 3D making
Mainstream factories don’t need to worry just yet, but gatherings of makers have seen the production of all sorts of goods which might otherwise have been expensive or difficult to procure.
This year of course, there has been major concern about the production of 3D printer designs for handguns, which could allow weapons to proliferate.
But for consumers, so far the technology has been all about iPhone cases and chocolate, made possible thanks to a small number of affordable devices and innovative Kickstarter projects.
So… do you know about 3D printing?
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