A device known as the MakerBot Thing-O-Matic can turn two-dimensional images into three-dimensional objects made of plastic.
Shaped like a hollow wooden box, and referred to as a printer by its New York-based creators, the $1,200 gadget translates images into code for 3D.
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When the process starts, hot plastic squeezes out of a nozzle onto exact coordinates on a plate heated to 43 degrees Celsius. The new object has the plastic feel and lightness of Lego.
Bre Pettis, Adam Meyer and Zach Smith, formed a geek club years ago to invent and make the gadget, which they describe as a “revolution” in 3D printing.
“It allows you to have a print queue – your machine will print objects one after another. This turns your Thing-O-Matic into a little factory that sits on your desktop,” the website says.
“Want to print 100 butterflies? Easy. Want to print an entire chess set? No problem.”
“Want to start a business selling printed things that you’ve designed? Awesome. Have the bot do all the work while you design new things.”
While the name of the device isn’t very original, the idea itself indicates there are other opportunities in 3D printing. Can you think of any?