Up one dimension: The Rise of Three Dimensional Printing

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Traditional Printers have been limited to two dimensional objects. They have only put ink on paper. Now, the technology of the star trek replicator may be coming soon. Three Dimensional printing has been around for a while, but only recently has it become more efficient and cheaper. These machines cost $1000 and up, with the lower end of the scale being simple hobby grade ones that you have to assemble yourself. The high end are the heavy industrial versions that now make airplane parts. Three dimensional printing allows for greater precision, more efficient parts (wasting less material), and sometimes even greater speed. They are used heavily in the research and design process and hobby manufacturing because they allow for low cost custom made parts at a fraction of the cost and time of the normal process. Recently, a one of these machines has made a fully functional violin. These machines work like normal printers, except in 3-D; they deposit material in layers until an object is formed. While future trends in technology are hard to predict, this technology is certainly one to watch out for.

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