Today we’re on the verge of a factory in every home thanks to the RepRap, an open hardware 3D printer that is designed to replicate itself. You can make a RepRap for yourself, then use it to make one for your neighbor. The design files and software needed to build and operate the RepRap are free. You can make one for about $500 in parts. And with each new version of the machine, an increasing percentage of the parts can be produced by the RepRap itself.
Future astronauts might end up living in a moon base created largely from lunar dust and regolith, if a giant 3-D printing device can work on the lunar surface.
The print-on-demand technology, known as D-Shape, could save on launch and transportation costs for manned missions to the moon. But the concept must first prove itself in exploratory tests funded by the European Space Agency (ESA)
“A nanofactory is a proposed system in which nanomachines (resembling molecular assemblers, or industrial robot arms) would combine molecules to build larger atomically precise parts.”
from Next Big Future: <- [Much more at link]
[...] The printer, developed by Invetech, fits inside a standard biosafety cabinet for sterile use. It includes two print heads, one for placing human cells, and the other for placing a hydrogel, scaffold, or support matrix.
Invetech plan to ship a number of 3D bio-printers to Organovo during 2010 and 2011 as a part of the instrument development program. Organovo will be placing the printers globally with researchers in centers of excellence for medical research.
from h+ Magazine:
You will likely soon be able to download hardware from the web in the form of free packages of coded instructions to make… well, just about anything — from a Lego block to the jet engine of an F-16.
The impetus behind downloading DIY hardware from the web is to leverage hackerspaces (those collaborative dens of real world hacking), fab labs (fabrication laboratories), and other groups around the world to shift the burden away from “makers” (manufacturers) to a core group of package maintainers who verify hardware designs and make it easy for makers to do what they love best — making things.
from R&D Magazine:
“Scientists and engineers can use the 3-D bio printers to enable placing cells of almost any type into a desired pattern in 3-D,” said Murphy.
[...] Ultimately the idea would be for surgeons to have tissue on demand for various uses, and the best way to do that is get a number of bio-printers into the hands of researchers and give them the ability to make three dimensional tissues on demand.”
Also see: The Desktop Manufacturing Revolution
Wouldn’t it be great to have a digital food machine sitting in your kitchen that could create any dish, real or imagined, from scratch at the touch of a button?
Cornucopia: Digital Gastronomy is a concept design that uses the well-established principles of 3D printing – plus precisely timed and temperature-controlled mixing and cooking – to open the door to a virtually limitless realm of replicable, creative cuisine in shapes and combinations that are simply impossible using our current, centuries-old cooking techniques. It’s a wonderful look into the future of cooking, from the creative food lover’s perspective.
Printers equipped for 3-D are poised to go mainstream, now that Hewlett-Packard plans to start selling them. The company’s inkjet and laser printers are staples in offices and homes.
The devices, which can crank out three-dimensional plastic models through a process similar to printing text on sheets of paper, have until recently been available only to high-end industrial designers. HP’s devices will be targeted at a broader market of mechanical-design professionals, and will probably cost less than $15,000.
“This is the boldest step we have seen so far in 3-D printing,” says Scott Summit, chief technology officer for Bespoke Innovations, a company that creates 3-D artifacts for medical use. “A lot of people want to do 3-D printing but it is a mysterious world. With HP embracing it, it is likely to demystify the idea to many consumers.”
Also see: 3-D Printers Make Manufacturing Accessible
3-D printers can take blobs of plastic and shape them into almost any object you desire. Now, thanks to open source hardware designs and enthusiastic do-it-yourselfers, these printers are increasingly popular and accessible. People are using them to fabricate iPod docks, plastic bracelets, hair clips and miniature teapots at home.