3D revolution will help — and hurt — countries

This week, I saw for the first time a desktop 3D printer, the machine that President Barack Obama lately said will “revolutionize the way we make almost everything,” and that experts say could alter the world just as much as the steam engine did in the 19th century, or the Internet by the end of the 20th century.

A Miami provider showed me the new technology – actually, it had been invented almost three decades ago, but it has just taken off now – and described how it works.

His machine was not larger than the usual desktop computer, and looked just like a combination between a home sewing machine and a dentists’ drill.

Many economists certainly will change the world economy, and agree that a fresh industrial revolution will be brought about by 3D printers. The brand new machines can make just about any item, much like your present 2D printer prints a text on paper.

You call up a design of an item on your personal computer screen, type the measurements and colors you need, press “enter” on your own computer keyboard and – bingo – the printer starts making that merchandise. The machine’s moving needle starts building the product, one layer at a time, and begins injecting plastic, or whatever other substance, into a tiny surface.

Abraham Reichental, the CEO of 3D Systems, among the whole world’s greatest businesses of 3D printers, told me in an interview that these machines are already being used widely in the aerospace business to make aircraft parts, and by physicians to make patient-specific knee or hip implants, or hearing apparatus.


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