Since the first 3-D printer was invented by Charles Hull in 1984, machines have seen vast improvements in speed and accuracy. Today's best 3-D printers operate much like a standard inkjet, spraying millions of droplets of polymer to build an object layer by layer. But there's a hitch: Most 3-D printers use only use a single material at once, thus each product they produce can be just one color or consistency.
Now that we’ve begun 3D printing anything and everything here on Earth, it’s time to move to the final frontier: printing space stations in orbit. It was only a matter of time. Now new company Made in Space is seeking investors and beginning tests to make space printing a reality, according to Space.com.
3-D printing has already resulted in advances in manufacturing (as well as tiny stop-motion animation), but now taking it one step further is the Urbee hybrid: the world’s first 3-D printed car, developed by Kor Ecologic and Stratasys.
Taking a page from advertising strategy, DARPA is hoping to get 'em while they're young. The military's mad-science wing wants various organizations to put manufacturing equipment in 1,000 high schools around the world, part of a new program called "MENTOR" — Manufacturing Experimentation and Outreach. The partnership will include new prize-based challenges to inspire a new generation of defense manufacturers.
With little more than a laser, a webcam and a MakerBot, you can make a 3D plastic replica of your face -- or anything else you might want to copy, just in case.
A research engineer at NASA’s Ames Research Laboratory has built a cheap 3D scanner that might go on sale this fall through the MakerBot store. You can sign up for updates on builder Andy Barry's Web site.