3-D Printers = AMAZING

When my dad was younger, in the late sixties, he knew a girl who lived in NYC and worked at Seventeen. She had a device that recorded television and he thought, "Wow, now that's going to be huge!" He was right. He saw the future. Years later, we had our first VCR. It even had its own remote control...that you had to plug into the VCR, creating a living room trip wire that surely caused disaster when we got up to get more Crystal Pepsi during an Ewok Adventure commercial break. The point is, Dad knew people were going to love that device, he just had a feeling. I have that same feeling now when I look at these 3-D printers. I'm not sure if they will ever be as universal as the VCR, but I definitely want them to be big someday! Hmm, Laserdisc or DVD? Only time will tell.

Here is a demo that shows the basic concept of what a 3-D printer does.

You have to request a price quote from ZCorp for their products, and I'm not sure how expensive these devices can get, but this Desktop Factory model is marketed as the most affordable at about $5000.

If right now you're thinking, "Yeah, that's cool... if you have a real big need to make little plastic models on a regular basis!" My answer to you is this. What if we fill the printer with cake? And then, you could just use the computer software to create a 3-D image of anything, like, the head of David Bowie (much like Jordan and I did when we made our medieval shield for Witzel's class), and then, the printer would just carve out a cake in the shape of David Bowie's head! Whether it's Labyrinth Bowie or Ziggy Stardust Bowie, it's all the same. That cake is delicious and you just printed it in your own home!

My friend, Roxana is a sculptor, and she thinks it's amazing. When she lived in Italy, her workshop had a giant machine that you could program to carve marble.

You can actually create 3-D objects with a regular printer as well, by using software that takes a 3-D image, flattens it to a 2-D image, which you can print, and then fold into your desired 3-D object. For example, here is a turkey.

I think they use a program called Blender, but there is an even more popular program that I'm blanking on - does anyone know the name? I saw guys use it to take characters from video games, and copy their helmets and weapons into the program, so they could essential fold these giant paper swords. I loved it. I think you can actually download a template of a Tron helmet here which is pretty much why the Internet exists and why it rules.

The chocolate inhaler - not so sure it's going to sweep the nation - but the 3-D printer definitely has possibilities. Now if they could just make one with a plug-in remote control...