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are filled every day with new, radical applications for the rapidly advancing 3D printer phenomenon.
3D-printed prototypes for
developmental models have been around for a few years now, but the paradigm is changing to include
finished products. Just as you can send a file for a printed circuit board that you design to
a vendor for rapid turn-around fabrication, you can now ship a 3D CAD file to companies that will
print your object. Gears,
enclosures, statues, even wearable clothing can be turned out as single or multiple components
for assembly. Last week a story appeared about a
3D-printed airway being used to save a baby's life. Available material media and step resolution
is not yet advanced enough to make a metal ball bearing, but it will get there. The May 2013 edition
Smithsonian magazine has a good article on the state of the art.