Soon, we might have 3D copy machines. Using powerful new technology, MIT’s latest 3D printer boasts, according to Russia Today, almost “human-free usability” which allows it to print “ready to use” objects comprising of up to ten different materials.
The development is being described by Gizmodo as a “giant leap” towards real-life replication as 3D printers strive for the ultimate goal of being able to produce functioning electronic parts. Already printers are capable of producing electronic circuits, however, MIT’s printer named ‘MultiFab’ (echoing the name of the ‘MultiVac’ super-computer in Isaac Asimov’s science fiction novel, The Last Question) is able to integrate these circuits into actual electronic components. This simplification of the manufacturing process hints at a future where a press of a button will be enough to produce such electronic mechanisms.
A 3D scanner is also incorporated into the printer which allows the device to print onto existing components. This could mean that making future modifications to your smartphone, for example, is a very real possibility. Another advantage of this feature is that the printing process can be almost hands free. The scanner works in real time to make sure everything is aligned, telling the printer to make changes if necessary.
In a release by the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) at MIT, the research team has described their printer as, “high-resolution, low-cost, extensible, and modular.” Advocating its possible use in education they also said that “students and teachers will be able to create complex mathematical figures, physics sets, lens systems, and anatomical models.”