Thinking Tech

3-D printing advances, producing a flute

Posting in Design

Some 3-D printers are now creating items you can actually stick a price tag on, like lamps and clothes.

Three dimensional printers have always had that certain neat-o factor, even though the machines were used primarily to produce simple prototypes of products.

But the technology has advanced considerably over the past few years. Some 3-D printers are now creating items you can actually stick a price tag on, like lamps and clothes. As SmartPlanet's Joe McKendrick had already noted, companies like Bespoke Innovations have used 3-D printers to make prosthetic limbs for the disabled. And in Belgium, a 3-D printing company named i.materialise just opened the first store for 3-D printed housewares.

Three-dimensional printers print out objects through a process in which the machine lays out the source material one layer at a time based on design specifications. The most sophisticated 3-D printers can cost upwards of 100,000 dollars, according to The New York Times.

To demonstrate just how sophisticated 3-D printing has become, a college student named Amit Zoran used an Objet Connex500, a machine capable of assembling multiple materials, to print out a flute.

Zoran, who conducts research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had already received some attention last year when he unveiled a concept design for a food printer.

Although the flute wasn't quite perfect, the mere achievement of producing a working musical instrument that involves a high degree of finely tuned craftsmanship is still pretty impressive. Don't you think?

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Tuan Nguyen

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of ABCNews.com. He holds degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure