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from NPR’s “Here and Now’

2011 July 7
by Shared by Steve Rust

3-D Printers Create Real Objects Out Of Computer Images


Here & Now Guest:

  • Rajeev Kulkarni, vice president of global engineering at 3-D Systems

For the past 20 years, high tech companies have been using 3-D printers to create parts and prototypes. These devices cost millions of dollars, and could convert computer-generated images into real-life objects. Now, a less-sophisticated home 3-D printer it out, starting at $1,300.

The printers spew out plastic, layer upon layer, to create objects from the ground up. People can use the devices to create toys, spare parts, even plastic jewelry for their kids. But what are the practical uses of the product?

Rajeev Kulkarni, vice president of global engineering at 3-D Systems in Charlotte, N.C., told Here & Now’s Robin Young that the 3-D home printing industry is in its infancy, but has immense potential.

He said that one day, people could use the printer to create replacement parts, instead of going to the store.

“Something breaks in your washing machine,” he said, “and you download the digital data and you print the part yourself.”

Kulkarni says that while the home 3-D printers on the market right now make things out of plastic, he can envision a day when people can even cook with these gizmos.

“Think about you having your kid’s birthday party, and each chocolate piece is customized to… the kid attending the party. It’s their own personal chocolate bar with their face on it!” Kilkarni said.

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