Will Personal 3-D Printing Take Off?
Inexpensive 3-D printers aimed at consumers are toys, not the factories of the future.
Will we one day find a desktop factory in every American home? That’s what enthusiasts of 3-D printing technology believe.
To find out how plausible such predictions are, I sat in on a 3-D printing class at the San Francisco branch of TechShop, a studio for tinkerers and designers, where I found myself waiting to see a palm-sized toy model of the Star Warscharacter Yoda materialize from a spool of cheap fluorescent green plastic.
Unfortunately, the classroom’s 3-D printer, a desktop model made by the Beijing-based Delta Micro Factory, was acting finicky. Though my instructor had recently replaced some parts, he was now on his fifth attempt to demonstrate how we could print out Yoda from a file he’d downloadedfrom the Internet. As a stringy nest of half-melted thermoplastic accumulated on the printer’s platform, he acknowledged that this Yoda simply wasn’t meant to be.
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