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TrekToday - Rudimentary Replicators Coming Home Soon

Rudimentary Replicators Coming Home Soon

By Michelle
May 9, 2007 - 9:55 PM

With a communicator, cloaking device, transporter and phaser already in the works, it was only a matter of time before someone made a breakthrough in replicator technology. Desktop Factory will soon begin selling a "3-D printer" to produce solid objects based on electronic plans.

Desktop Factory, a creation of IdeaLab, will begin selling a three-dimensional printer for about $5000 this year, according to The New York Times. Bill Gross, the chairman of IdeaLab, said that by developing technology that uses a halogen bulb to melt nylon powder, the company expects prices to fall to $1000 in four years. "We are Easy-Bake Ovening a 3-D model...the fundamental engineering allows us to make it for $300 in materials," he explained.

Cornell University professor Hod Lipson said he believed that in the future such printers would be common, and that people would be able to reproduce "a toothbrush, a fork, a shoe. Who knows where it will go from here?" The devices are referred to as printers because they assemble objects from of specks of material in a similar manner to the way traditional printers create images out of dots of ink or toner.

Currently dental labs use far more expensive models to produce crowns and bridges and models from CT scans are used by doctors for surgical planning. But much of the demand comes from gamers, who would like to produce 3-D models of their characters in games like Second Life. IdeaLab believes the idea will also catch on among home repair aficionados who could produce replacements for dishwasher racks in their own homes.

Desktop Factory's version is expected to be — 25 by 20 by 20 inches and weigh less than 100 pounds, making it easy to use in a home office. About ten printers have been produced so far that work by spreading layers of heated plastic powder and merging them together.

The full article is here.

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