Packaging Innovation
September 13, 2010

Printing in 3D

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 3D 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. via Engineering Works