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- In the Field
3-D Printing Gaining PopularitySeptember 27, 2012
The release of a new 3-D printer makes it easier for inventors and hobbyists alike to turn ideas into prototypes.
Printing in 3-D appears to be gaining popularity, an encouraging sign for some industries and emerging technologies. And with the recent announcement of a new product, the MakerBot Replicator 2, consumers, inventors and industry leaders might find it even easier to make use of it.
MakerBot’s new 3-D printer is featured on the cover of October’s issue of Wired, according to a news release from the company. The CEO of the MakerBot says in the release that the company has “made the best desktop 3-D printer on the market, made it affordable to both professionals and hobbyists, and made it cool looking.”
According to a Scientific American blog post, 3-D printing has gained popularity because it levels the playing field for inventors in turning ideas into prototypes. MakerBot’s new model is available starting at $2,199, and another printer debuting next year for $2,799 is intended for more experimental works, the article states.
Could an industrial revolution be under way? An article by The Economist states that 3-D printing could transform the manufacturing industry, because it would cost less to print prototypes and even some final products. While 3-D printers have been used for decades, newer models allow for use of more materials, the article states.
And what if the U.S. government capitalizes on the 3-D printing craze? According an article by InnovationNewsDaily, the federal government wants to “reshape manufacturing by offering up to $60 million for a new 3-D printing institute.” According to the article, the Additive Manufacturing Institute would serve as a pilot institute that provides innovation infrastructure to support manufacturing enterprises. 3-D printing could save money on new defense technologies ad weapons. For example, a soldier could print out replacement parts at bases near battlefields, the article mentions.
So why the appeal to 3-D printing? The technology enables users to immediately tweak and print digital objects. The military could save money on manufacturing new defense technologies or weapons by using 3-D printing, while some types of 3-D printers could allow soldiers to print replacement parts at bases, the article states.
Could it only be a matter of time until 3-D printers are common household items?