3D Home Printer Closer Than You Think
Over the last couple of years, 3D print went from the “high-tech lab only” sort of thing, to the “coming soon to your home” item. Of course, we’re still far away from true, consumer-level 3D manufacturing device, but every now and then a new prototype makes another step to bridge the gap. The most recent is the world’s smallest 3D printer from Vienna, with a price tag of just $1700. Sure, there are some DIY kits going for a similar price, but they’re not really an option, unless you happen to have an engineering degree and mad soldering skills.
The Vienna printer looks like an ugly black box, and it’s probably not very user-friendly, but the feature set seems impressive. The device is small and compact, weighing only 1.5 kg. It can manufacture items or components from laser-hardened plastics with 0.05 mm precision. Of course, the size of the print-outs is limited, but with enough building blocks you can do pretty much anything. If people were able to create working film projectors out of Lego, imagine what they could do with this thing. If you’re a crazy inventor type, be sure to queue for this holy grail of DIY. On your way to Vienna, grab a RS232 extension card from your local electronics junkyard, because it seems that the prototype forgoes USB in favor of good, old 9-pin serial port. Also, be careful what you print out once you finally get your hands on this machine. Making custom iPhone shells can get you into some real trouble.
On a side note, It’s interesting that the home-based 3D manufacturing comes at the same time as the big return of intelligent home concept, spearheaded by the recent Android@Home initiative. Maybe a self-sustainable intelligent home that restocks itself with simple objects and builds all necessary replacement parts is closer than you think?
But the thing I am most looking forward to is a 3D printer that could print out parts for another 3D printer, which could in turn print out even more 3D printers - allowing for an endless cycle of Von Neumann machines. RepRap seems to be not far off.
Or you could give me a printer that can simply print money. I wouldn’t mind.