One nice thing about using aCAD program to "print" 3D images on your home 3D printer is that you can "fix them up" before printing them. Another nice thing is that you wouldn't have to bring home souveniors, you could just take a picture (lots of pictures) and print them later. Lots lighter on the luggage.
What a novel idea (and I don't mean it sarcastically): printing your own souvenirs from your vacation pix, after touching them up in CAD. Or for that matter, taking pictures of things around you (like redwood trees or other objects in nature). That gives me ideas for new materials and I wonder if anyone's working on them for 3D apps: ones that resemble natural substances, like wood or stone, and less like plastic.
I bet all the 3D printer and 3D content creation tool providers will get a lift just listening in on the exchange going on in this community. They're betting that once the tools make the technology more accessible, enthusiasm will be infectious and the applications endless. From the looks of the small burst we've got going here, they might just be on to something.
@Ann: Love your idea of the materials developments. I'm not so sure the ones you mentioned are developed yet, but they would sure get some good traction.
Beth, another reason I'm wondering about more natural-looking materials combines with the souvenir idea. I'm an ancient history fan, and many replicas of ancient statues or other art objects are being made in plastic resins now, instead of the older reconstituted concrete and stone materials, which I prefer. So I wonder if there's any research being done on non-plastic, non-metal 3D materials. Not sure what any other apps for those might be.
Thank your for telling us about these services. I have stock in two leading 3D printer companies because I believe this is a huge growth industry that surprisingly few people know about. 3D printers combined with the services you report get us very close to what science fiction fans know as a Santa Clause machine. One can wish for a sailboat or any other fantasy and have it manufactured. Some work is even being done on printing biological organs and tissues.
A new service lets engineers and orthopedic surgeons design and 3D print highly accurate, patient-specific, orthopedic medical implants made of metal -- without owning a 3D printer. Using free, downloadable software, users can import ASCII and binary .STL files, design the implant, and send an encrypted design file to a third-party manufacturer.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.