Below is a video on the topic, and a fascinating article from the Economist. Out of all the cutting edge new technologies, this is by far the most intriguing one I have ever heard of. The possibilities are endless, they are trying to print an airplane wing off a printer. This will revolutionize probably every industry in the world.

Below is an excerpt from the article from The Economist:

 

It works like this. First you call up a blueprint on your computer screen and tinker with its shape and colour where necessary. Then you press print. A machine nearby whirrs into life and builds up the object gradually, either by depositing material from a nozzle, or by selectively solidifying a thin layer of plastic or metal dust using tiny drops of glue or a tightly focused beam. Products are thus built up by progressively adding material, one layer at a time: hence the technology’s other name, additive manufacturing. Eventually the object in question—a spare part for your car, a lampshade, a violin—pops out. The beauty of the technology is that it does not need to happen in a factory. Small items can be made by a machine like a desktop printer, in the corner of an office, a shop or even a house; big items—bicycle frames, panels for cars, aircraft parts—need a larger machine, and a bit more space.

At the moment the process is possible only with certain materials (plastics, resins and metals) and with a precision of around a tenth of a millimetre. As with computing in the late 1970s, it is currently the preserve of hobbyists and workers in a few academic and industrial niches. But like computing before it, 3D printing is spreading fast as the technology improves and costs fall. A basic 3D printer, also known as a fabricator or “fabber”, now costs less than a laser printer did in 1985.

Just press print

The additive approach to manufacturing has several big advantages over the conventional one. It cuts costs by getting rid of production lines. It reduces waste enormously, requiring as little as one-tenth of the amount of material. It allows the creation of parts in shapes that conventional techniques cannot achieve, resulting in new, much more efficient designs in aircraft wings or heat exchangers, for example. It enables the production of a single item quickly and cheaply—and then another one after the design has been refined.

For many years 3D printers were used in this way for prototyping, mainly in the aerospace, medical and automotive industries. Once a design was finalised, a production line would be set up and parts would be manufactured and assembled using conventional methods. But 3D printing has now improved to the point that it is starting to be used to produce the finished items themselves (see article).

Read the full article here-http://www.economist.com/node/18114327