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

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?

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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?

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