I just stopped by MakerBot's far-flung booth somewhere in the back caverns of CES (I believe it may technically be in Arizona) to check out their new Replicator 3-D printer. Check out the video below--pretty sure that's a bust of Stephen Colbert being slowly brought to life with swirling circles of molten plastic.
The Replicator is the newest MakerBot, a relatively inexpensive 3-D printer that can print in either ABS (the same plastic LEGO uses) or PLA (a corn-based bio-material). This version is much bigger, capable of printing objects 9 x 6 x 6 inches in size, and has a "dual extrusion" mode to print two-colored objects, a first for MakerBot. It also ships fully assembled; previous MakerBots required the end user to construct them at home, which is described as being about as difficult to assemble as a piece of furniture from IKEA, so there's that little inconvenience taken care of.
The new model updates the previous in a few other ways too--it has a built-in LCD panel, a control pad (sort of like a videogame controller), and an SD card slot, so you can just load models onto an SD card and print without needing a computer at all. And as always, plans are available at the MakerBot community.
The Replicator will sell for $1,750 for the single extruder version, and $2,000 for the dual-extruder version.
Wow, they are still printing up Mr. Colbert, huh? They did that on his show last summer.
Can't wait to buy one of these machines myself in a decade or so when the prices go down and they perfect it a bit more. Still, it's cool to see these things are getting made.
The blue head looks more like a young Ronald Regan.
Science sees no further than what it can sense.
Religion sees beyond the senses.
A single grain of sand could cause havoc.
What will really be cool is when they can use these to make things out of other materials besides plactic, like wood or metal or maybe even stone. The ultimate version would also let you make things that were edible. Then you'd have a real life version of Star treks replicator.
One better would be the printing of functional human organs. I believe that PopSci did an article about such a method not too long ago. Personally, I'm waiting for the day when we can print off entire human beings, similar in style to that scene from the 5th Element. :D Immortality is only a stone's throw away, unfortunately.