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A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

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Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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3-D Printing Quickly Becoming Reality

July 28, 2011, 1:00 PM

What's the Latest Development?

The three-dimensional printing now used for rapid prototyping could soon bring massive changes not just to the manufacturing sector but also to our homes. "Medical researchers have already printed artificial bones, tailor made for people based on scans of their real bones and then implanted to replace bones that have been removed or damaged. The next challenge is to print tissue and create artificial organs using 3D printing. ... Of course, all of this raises the question of intellectual property."

What's the Big Idea?

"Instead of printing ink on paper, 3D printers use a fine powder that sets into a hard, plaster-like finish, building up an object one layer at a time. Building an object layer by layer wastes less material than traditional production methods and makes it possible to produce things that are very hard to make in other ways. What’s used now for rapid prototyping could soon bring massive changes not just to industry but to our homes. 3D printing has been around for about 20 years but over the last decade costs have been falling and the range of materials that can be used has expanded."



3-D Printing Quickly Becomi...

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