What's the Latest Development?

Two recent advances have occured in the development of three-dimensional printing. Firstly, researchers at the University of Virginia have unveiled the world's smallest 3-D printer: "This prototype 3-D printer is capable of printing in a synthetic resin at a high resolution—the individual layers are just a twentieth of a millimeter thick." The second development was the release of 3-D modeling computer software. Made by Autodesk, "the application is free for Windows machines, and is specifically geared towards the design of 3-D projects 'for makers.'"

What's the Big Idea?

3-D printing is a new micro-manufacturing process that could revolutionize the way goods are made and distributed. Artisans and designers could, in principle, create inexpensive prototypes at home and, if successful, distribute their new products along decentralized routes. "3-D Printing has a very strong potential to revolutionize manufacturing, and cheap printing that’s available in every home opens the door to some rather staggering possibilities, especially for artists and crafters," says Alex Knapp. "The next few years are going to be pretty exciting."