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News Link • Technology: Computer Hardware

Wanted: A Print Button for 3-D Objects

•, By Antonio Regala
 The largest companies in 3-D printing are racing to simplify design software so that it can become as easy to make an object as it is to send a document to a printer.

Interest in 3-D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is exploding due to the falling cost of machines that can lay down finely targeted layers of plastic to make simple products, like jewelry or sculptures, much as a traditional printer sprays ink onto paper. The idea is that 3-D printers could democratize design and eventually manufacturing by letting anyone make physical things in small quantities, without the expense of an assembly line.

The technology still has a ways to go—making objects on consumer printers is slow and expensive. To print a solid plastic apple on MakerBot’s $2,000 consumer printer, for instance, takes seven hours and costs $50 in supplies, so it’s no competition for cheap plastic goods made in China. 

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