The New MakerBot Replicator Might Just Change Your World
Wow, great price and nice styling. I remember when these things were priced at more than $250,000. I think it was in Jurassic Park III that an early portable stereolithography unit was demonstrated (faked) making a replica of some small dinosaur skull. And I remember when selective laser sintering was just an interesting university project proposal.
My own idea, which has never been implemented as far as I know, was to widdle a block of plastic foam with a drill or laser and then do lost-foam casting, which could produce an aluminum or other metal object in a minute or so. The Saturn engine blocks were produced with lost-foam casting, which is similar to lost-wax casting. What they call 3D printing can take half an hour to produce a plastic cup.
Selective laser sintering does produce small metal gears very quickly, though, and it's cool to watch. It started with just aluminum, but now it can be done with a variety of metals. And domes could be built on the moon by robots sintering moon dust outdoors, thanks to the lack of atmosphere and plentiful strong sunlight. It might take a few years to complete a dome, but we're in no hurry getting people there. And the wall could be thick enough to protect people and equipment from miniasteroid strikes plus contain pressurized atmosphere.
Anyway, this new thing can whip out nicely detailed starship models from the many CGI files widely available for free download, leaving you the challenge of painting them.
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