3-D printers to become mainstream over next several years

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Imagine needing a small part for your car or an appliance. Now imagine being able to go online to create the part and have it “printed out” in three dimensions! Forget about The Jetsons…welcome to the wacky world of 3-D printers!

Jay Leno has been a pioneer of this unique technology. According to The Los Angeles Times, Leno has a $27,000 machine that allows mechanics to design and then manufacture hard-to-find parts for his collection of more than 200 cars and motorcycles.

Advocates of this technology believe it will become commonplace in the next few years at much more affordable price points.

One particular company called MakerBot.com already offers a “rapid prototyping” machine (starting at $750) that’s much smaller than Leno’s industrial-sized model. The MakerBot version lets you design and create almost anything on a small scale using ABS plastic in the comfort of your own home.

Clark believes we are on the edge of a revolution that will lead to a big improvement of some facets of everyday life. He predicts 3-D printers will become more mainstream by 2013.

Instead of scouring the web to find a part on eBay or going from store to store, bam!, you can make a duplicate in your garage. Or perhaps we’ll see fix-it shops that carry no inventory and simply make whatever you need on order.

The consumer champ likens the coming revolution to what RedBox did to the traditional marketplace for video rental stores. Is he crazy or crazy like a fox about 3-D printers? Only time will tell…



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