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Are 3D Printers the Precursor to Star Trek Style Replicators? [VIDEO]

Bobby Travis

Bobby Travis

This is a post by Bobby Travis, who wrote with me at 40Tech from 2009 through 2012. Bobby has since moved on to bigger and better things, but I've left all of his great contributions up on the site. - Evan
Bobby Travis

Are 3D Printers the Precursor to Star Trek Style Replicators? [VIDEO] | 40Tech

While I was toying about with the Sparks feature of Google+ last night (yeah, yeah, another post that has a reference to Google Plus — sue me, it’s new and it’s shiny!), I came across a video that caused my brain to explode (Plus post). It’s about a visit by theoretical physicist David Kaplan to the Z Corporation, a 3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping company that has developed 3D printing tech to the degree that they can replicate tools. Yep, you heard me… Star Trek fans: replicate!

David challenges the Z Corporation to create a Crescent Wrench (adjustable spanner), complete with moving parts — and all in one pass.

I’ve been curious about 3D printing for a while, and the video — which comes from the National Geographic Channel’s Known Universe series (Construction Zone) — shines a little light on the process. Z Corporation has taken things a bit further, however, by creating a proprietary mixture of specialized powder and binder material that is strong enough to make the tools they replicate more than just a neat paper weight. They actually work! I don’t know to what degree of torque or pressure these tools can stand, but, according to the Z Corporation’s spokesperson in the video clip, all it takes for added toughness is a little more resin.

I’m not sure about environmental implications, and I’m certain the cost would be astronomical, but I would love to have one of these printers in my house — wouldn’t you?


NOTE: This video is hosted on YouTube, and not by the National Geographic Channel. I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets pulled by the NGC due to copyright issues, so watch it while you can.  :)

What do you think of 3D printing?