3D Printer: A Star Trek Idea Come True

by sheilamarie

Remember Star Trek's replicator? A 3D printer is as close to that sci-fi idea as you can get!

3D printers have been around in the manufacturing industry for a while, but most of us have little idea about what a 3D printer is and how it is used today or how it could be used in the future.

Come along with me and discover something about the 3D printer and what all the buzz is about.

3D Printer: Star Trek Replicator -- Really?

Sci-fi Makes It to Real Life

3D Printer Is an Amazing Peek Into the Future

I have to admit -- I am not the most technological person. 

But I came across the 3D printer online.  I am absolutely amazed at the possibilities of it. A little worried, too. Images of piles of junk being hoarded in the back shed come to mind. Well, maybe that picture is already there in the minds of those who peek into my back shed. Who am I kidding?

But I digress. I wanted to write a little about the 3D printer because it seems a bit surreal. One can imagine limitless possibilities about how it could be used.

Of course the material used in creating this stuff makes me ask questions. I'll have to do a bit more research to get answers, because so far what's really in the materials they use to recreate objects is a bit of a mystery. Is it just a lot more plastic to fill up our landfills? So far the "recipe" is being kept secret.

But maybe you are more in the know than I am and we can start a conversation about the pros and cons of 3D printing.

First, what is 3D printing? And what can a 3D printer really do? 

Watch this video with me, especially if you're like me and haven't a clue. I found it almost hard to believe!

3d Printer Can Replicate Complex Items

Even Moving Parts

3D Printing: How Do They Do That?

3D printing, a form of additive manufacturing technology, has actually been around for several years. It is often used for making prototypes of parts, but has uses in making such diverse things as jewelry, footwear, dental and medical products, parts for the construction and automotive industries, among other things.

Several competing technologies are in the works in the area of 3D printing, each of which uses slightly different procedures and different materials to make their products. Some of these materials are polymers, metals, and even ceramics. The end product determines which material will be used and which of the several technologies will be employed. 

If you'd like to investigate the procedures in more detail, here's a link to the Wikipedia article on 3D printers:

Wikipedia: 3D Printing

Which of the Possible Uses for the 3D Printer Appeals More to You?

Space or Domestic

I think its possibilities on our own planet make more sense.
LR on 11/07/2011

I think we should try printing the most basic things first!

3D Printer: A Manufacturing Revolution?

Re-Creating Tools and Other Items

Can you imagine having something go wrong in your house -- maybe you're flipping pancakes and your spatula got too close to the stove and the plastic handle melted, separating from the metal. No crisis -- because you've made back ups of every item in your kitchen for just this scenario in your household 3D printer.

Wait a minute, now we have that storage problem again, don't we. Oh, no problem at all -- just pop that storage shed into the 3D printer and presto -- double the storage space! 

I know I'm being silly here. A 3D printer really does get the mind going thinking of the possibilities, though. The video mentioned its uses in outer space, but even at home, on a more serious note, you could make artificial limbs and other really important items that benefit people's lives at a fraction of their current cost. There's even some talk of inexpensive homes being built quickly and cheaply using the 3D printer to replicate parts.

People will use their imaginations to find solutions to many needs, I have no doubt.

Here's a TED Talk on Making Your Own Medicines with 3D Printer Technology

Print Your Own Medicine
Can 3D technology be used to print molecules?

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20 Awesome Things Made With 3D Printing

Strange but True

Do you wonder what else can be made with this technology? Here are some photos ranging from prostheses to fashions to chocolate and gummy look alikes.

Would you like to be immortalized in chocolate?

How about a full body gummy replication of yourself or a loved one?

As bizarre as those prospects seem, they may become ordinary special occasion gifts, such as for a wedding, in the future. Your fancy dress and jewelry for the event may be manufactured with printer technology, too.

And the car to attend the event, as I've written about elsewhere, may be made the same way.

And how about the meal served -- insect biscuits?

Take a look at some of these possibilities with the link above.


What Do You Think the 3D Printer Should Be Used for First?

If There Was a To-Do List Which Use Would You Put as Number 1?

MIT Media Lab

Where 3D Printing Was Born

Urbee: 3D Printed Car Built to Last 30 Years

Uses a Fraction of the Fuel of Other "Green" Cars

Built to last 30 years, rather than the five years most cars last without breaking down, the Urbee is also made to be fuel efficient and safe to drive. Its designers have been working on the project for fifteen years and have now unveiled it for all the world to see. They have created most of the car with a 3D printer! 

The following video shows you what the Urbee looks like and tells a little more about how it was built.

Urbee Car on Daily Planet November 2010

Features of This Newly Designed Green Car

The Urbee : A 3D Printed Car

Revolutionary Method to "Print" Car

Urbee: World's First "Printed" Car
Additive layer manufacturing used to print the greenest car ever.

Urbee, the Natural Way to Drive
Urbee website vision page. Read the list of ideals the creators of the Urbee are aiming for. These people are an inspiring bunch.

A Homemade 3-D Printer


Meet Jim Smith, a 23 year old who has made his own 3-D printer. His living room is set up with not one but two 3-D printers for playing around with.

What does he make with his 3-D printer?

What does he see as the future of 3-D printers?

Come see what's cooking at Jim's house!

3D Printers on eBay

With Supplies and Parts

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Other Articles about 3D Printing

Items That Have Been Made Thanks to This New Technology
The Urbee, the first 3D printed car, is also the most environmentally friendly car. Up to 100mpg in urban driving and made to last 30 years.
The 3D printed bicycle is one of the innovations in technology using additive manufacturing technology.
Updated: 12/08/2016, sheilamarie
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What Do You Think About 3-d Printers?

sheilamarie on 03/21/2012

I share your amazement. Things happen so fast that sometimes it's difficult to know what to make of all these advances.

pcdman on 01/05/2012

don't think you'll see them that much in the home but could be really be helpful in industry and technology

fanfreluche on 09/24/2011

Weird, really it's the first time I hear about 3d printers

barbarab on 09/12/2011

I watched this on PBS last mont...they made a screwdriver! it was totally cool...

TerriRexson on 07/27/2011

I've been watching the development of 3-d printers closely. We're hoping our local hackspace gets one.

kajohu on 07/25/2011

This is a very interesting idea. My aunt, who's very down-to-earth, was the person who actually forwarded the video to me, to show me what's possible right now. And my husband's high school has a simpler version of a 3-D printer for the CAD (computer aided design) classes. It's going to be a new world when this technology progresses!

ohcaroline on 07/25/2011

I am totally clueless about 3d printers. It does seem like an interesting concept though.

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