What's the Latest Development?
The manufacturing revolution that 3-D printing was meant to facilitate has stalled. Given that much of the printing hardware is decades old, fault lies with 3-D printing software, says Matthew Griffin, director of community support at Adafruit Industries, an online marketplace for high-tech hobbyists. Griffin says that few consumers can operate current software used to render objects. "A lot of people are 3-D printing other people’s designs, but they can’t yet model their own. They are in a holding pattern. There is a gap between what they are seeing and what is inspiring them and what they can make."
What's the Big Idea?
3-D printing works by creating layer after layer of objects, from jewelry to sculpture, much as a traditional printer sprays ink onto paper. Currently, however, 3-D printing is not nearly competitive with production costs in developing countries. Making a plastic apple costs seven hours and $50 in materials using state of the art printing technology (which itself costs over $2,000). Could current roadblocks be overcome, however, "the idea is that 3-D printers could democratize design and eventually manufacturing by letting anyone make physical things in small quantities, without the expense of an assembly line."
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