Slide 1 of 21
The cost of 3D printing has long kept the technology in a select few hands, but all that is changing as 3D printing blossoms into a full-fledged trend.
This June, Staples will start retailing a consumer 3D printer, the Cube 3D Printer, for $1,299 — not cheap, but not out of reach of the dedicated techie, either. Proponents hope that as costs come down, more sophisticated printers will reach the general public, allowing for digital DIY manufacturing.
Though copyright and quality issues remain a concern, 3D printing has already made its mark in some pretty weird ways. Read on for 10 strange objects created by 3D printers.
A working gunSlide 2 of 21
A working gun
It looks more like a toy than a deadly weapon, but the world's first 3D-printed gun has gun control advocates as well as pro-gun rights enthusiasts concerned and excited. Last year, Cody Wilson, a radical libertarian/anarchist from the University of Texas' law school, announced plans for printing a gun, establishing a nonprofit called Defense Distributed to fabricate the weapon and distribute the plans.
In early March, Wilson and his team achieved their dream, successfully testing the "Liberator" on a Texas firing range. Except for a firing pin made from a metal nail, the gun is made from plastic pieces printed on an $8,000 Stratasys Dimension SST 3D printer. The gun successfully shot a .380 caliber bullet, but exploded when its creators tried to modify it to shoot a larger 5.7x28 rifle cartridge.Slide 3 of 21
A make-it-yourself violinSlide 4 of 21
A make-it-yourself violin
The world's first 3D-printed violin is half technological wonder, half papier-mâché project. DIY violin-maker Alex Davies used 3D printing to make a plastic form for the violin's body, which he and his team then covered in newspaper and glue. A piece of cardboard made the neck and some picture-hanging wire served for strings. The result, announced online Feb. 27 via a somewhat-difficult-to-listen-to YouTube video, was no Stradivarius, but its creators declared it "not bad for a weekend and 12 dollars."Slide 5 of 21
Human stem cellsSlide 6 of 21
Human stem cells
The device works by creating uniform droplets of living embryonic stem cells, which are the cells present in early development that are capable of differentiating into any type of tissue. The printer is so gentle that it can squirt out as few as five cells at a time without damaging them. Researchers can use the dabs of cells to rapidly test drugs or to build miniature scraps of tissue. The eventual goal is to grow whole organs from scratch.Slide 7 of 21
Dead king's faceSlide 8 of 21