Printing in Three Dimensions

Forget flat; these printers deliver solid objects in full color.

THE GIST

The process is similar to an inkjet printer, however, the "ink" is powder and a bonding agent.

Printing in layers, the machine builds up the object in three dimensions.

Some of the gadgets engineers come up with are just cool. We're going to check out one of them. Printing in three-dimensions. Today, on Engineering Works! Listen to the podcast.

Most of us have home computers these days, and they're all connected to desktop printers. Hit the print key and out comes that report you needed for work or a barbecue sauce recipe from the web. Easy.report

That was then. Now, a new kind of printer is taking printing into three-dimensions, not just flat on a piece of paper. These printers print out solid objects, usually in plastic. There aren't many of the printers around yet. Technology geeks and hobbyists own most of them. They use them to make stuff like jewelry, toys, tools or kitchen appliances.

Tonight Show host and classic car collector Jay Leno even has one. His mechanics use it to print out car parts that they can't buy any longer. They send the plastic models to machine shops to get real metal parts made, cheaper and faster than custom-designed parts.

The 3-D printers are starting to catch on. You can buy them in some electronics stores or directly from the manufacturers. Prices run from $750 for a desktop kit model to $27,000 for Leno's refrigerator-sized unit. So far, it's definitely a niche device, but enthusiasts are sure that someday we'll be printing out things we need, not just fun stuff.

We can't print out a ride home, but we're still done. See you next time.

Engineering Works! is made possible by Texas A&M Engineering and produced by KAMU-FM in College Station. Learn more about engineering. Visit us on the World Wide Web. http://engineeringworks.tamu.edu

DISCOVERYnewsletter
 
Invalid Email