Imagine if you had a machine that could make you a copy of your toy and even let you design an improved version. How about having your own face on your superhero action figure? 3D printers can print objects from toys to guitars to artificial arms based on plans that are fed into a computer. Up until now, 3D printers have been expensive and not user-friendly. The company New Matter, however, has designed an easy-to-use 3D printer called MOD-t that both kids and grandmothers can use. The company co-founder, Bill Gross, says: “My dream is for a 3D printer in every home and in every classroom.”
The personal MOD-t printer looks like an aquarium and doesn’t take up much space. Owners of the MOD-t printer will be able to select objects to print, like bracelets and smartphone covers, from an online library. They can personalize them to their favorite color or have their name engraved on the object. 3D printers might become so common that instead of paying the postage for mailing a gift, you could send a design for something they might like to their 3D printer. No waiting for delivery when shopping online, either. You could buy a design for some fancy coat hooks and then print them at home.
3D printers can make things out of plastic, metal, chocolate and many other materials. Just like how an ink jet printer puts ink onto a page, 3D printers print materials onto a surface, but they add more and more layers. It’s like building a loaf of bread one slice at a time.
Amazing things have been made with 3D printers, including telescopes and even a building in China. Right now, designers and engineers are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. Steve Schell, the president of New Matter, predicts that children’s toys are where 3D printing is going to take off first. So what would you print with your 3D printer?