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Author Topic: Beyond Plastic: 3D Printers Are Now Printing Metal, Wood, Even Electronics  (Read 640 times)


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In a word... WANT!


The challenge with 3D printing isn't the machine, it's the materials.

If you've used one of the current generation of desktop 3D printers, you'll have noticed there's a limit to what you can make: If you’ve always wanted a small, personalised model in cheap plastic, you're in luck, but that’s about it.

That's set to change as 3D printer makers look to expand the available materials. At CES, Makerbot announce​d that by the end of this year it would offer composite materials of bronze, maple wood, and iron, while a host of projects are printing in new materials such as fake wo​od and carbon​ fiber.

One company at the forefront of this push is Vo​xel8, with its product based on the material science work of Harvard University res​earcher Jennifer Lewis. The Voxel8’s Direct Write 3D printing technology pushes out “viscous paste” at room temperature using pneumatic or volumetric systems.

“It's effectively pushing paste out of syringes,” co-founder Daniel Oliver told me. “The interesting thing with Direct Write is it expands the materials pallet, so it allows you to print out a large number of different materials on a similar hardware platform and has a wider band of materials it's able to print than frankly any other 3D printing technology I'm aware of.”​

Its first printer, which costs $8,999, uses thermoplastic as well as conductive silver ink, letting you print electronics—Voxel8 likes to show off a fully-functioning quadcopter that was almost entirely printed in one go (the blades need to be attached separately).

More at the link.

But printing electronics? Cripes! That is wicked cool. 8)