Personal electronics' next revolution: Home printers that make 3-D objects

Nov 16, 2011

Just imagine: Instead of sending Grandma a holiday photo of the family for her fridge, you call up the image on your computer monitor, click "print," and your printer produces a three-dimensional plastic model ready for hanging on the holiday tree. Scenes like that — in which homes have 3-D printers that build solid objects on demand – are fast approaching reality, according to the cover story in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News, the American Chemical Society's weekly newsmagazine.

In the article, C&EN Associate Editor Lauren K. Wolf explains that 3-D printers are on the verge of a personal revolution akin to the one that began in the 1970s and transformed computers from room-size machines to devices that fit on tables and now in pockets. A similar transformation is taking place in the world of 3-D printing, where machines are shrinking and the ability to create detailed objects from a variety of materials is growing. Engineers are now able to create objects out of a number of plastics, metals, ceramics and even foods like chocolate, sometimes with details as fine as a human hair.

The technology promises to foster revolutions in venues ranging from kitchens to hospital operating rooms. Some surgeons, for instance, envision printing bone grafts or replacement blood vessels with embedded proteins and cells that will help them fuse naturally. Chefs could print designer chocolates and gourmet meals with unique textures and tastes. "In 20 years, many people will have a 3-D printer in their kitchen for printing designer foods and other products," the article quotes one scientist as saying.

Explore further: Fiber-optic microscope will help physicians detect cancer, diseases at early stages

More information: Personal Manufacturing: cen.acs.org/articles/89/i46/Personal-Manufacturing.html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New file format will help 3-D printing progress

Jul 22, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- A newly approved standard for 3-D printing file interchange will greatly enhance 3-D printing capabilities, says Cornell's Hod Lipson, who led the development of the standard.

Laser printing speeds parts on demand to manufacturers

Apr 27, 2011

Pull into the auto repair shop with a smashed bumper, and there's no wait while they order a replacement. Instead, the technician downloads specifications from the manufacturer's database. You both watch as a laser beam probing ...

Introducing Cornucopia, the food printer

Jul 23, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- US scientists have introduced a concept design of the "Cornucopia" or Digital Fabricator, a "personal food factory" able to print food from specified ingredients, with no waste at the point ...

Recommended for you

Smart sensor technology to combat indoor air pollution

Apr 14, 2014

Indoor air quality (IAQ) influences the health and well-being of people but for the last 20 years there has been a growing concern about pollutants in closed environments, the difficulty in identifying them ...

Drones used to assess damage after disasters

Apr 11, 2014

Researchers of the University of Twente use a new method to map structural damage after disasters. A remote-controlled drone with a regular high-quality camera takes a large amount of pictures of a building. ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rwinners
5 / 5 (1) Nov 16, 2011
We will need 3d scanners before we can put these printers to good use.

More news stories

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.

Astronomers: 'Tilt-a-worlds' could harbor life

A fluctuating tilt in a planet's orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington, Utah's Weber State University and NASA. In fact, ...