3-D printing: cool new tool or total game-changer?

It wouldn’t be an understatement to say the Internet has changed everything. But what’s next? Some — economists, journalists, human scientists and others — say our future lies 3-D printers, a technology that’s been described as “the biggest upheaval in manufacturing since the industrial revolution.”
As the Internet matures, it will continue to define the 21st century, of course. Humans, after all, are living in the Age of Big Data — an age in which massive amounts of information are collected and recorded, and giant, supremely sophisticated computers able to sort and study said data. Everything is smart: smart phones, smart cars, smart houses and more.

But more so than artificial intelligence and Google, some scientists think 3-D printers — the new machines that take all this data and turn into tangible materials and usable products — will be even more revolutionary.

Three-dimensional printers can make a 3-D object, of almost any shape, using a digital model; although many basic 3-D printers use plastic, printers have been designed to build objects out a full range of materials, including metals, concrete, fabrics and more. … (Read more)