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Star Trek technologies used to seem light years away, but rapidly improving 3D technology (or additive manufacturing, AM) is turning futuristic dreams into reality. Simply speaking, 3D printing is the process of creating a three dimensional, solid object from a digital file. The digital file is sliced into hundreds or thousands of 2D layers and then an automated computer system prints the successive layers of material while seamlessly blending them. Early development began back in the 1980’s, but it wasn’t until the early 2000’s that 3D printing began pushing into the hobbyist and enthusiast markets. In 2011 home-use expanded drastically and now printers are available for very attainable prices, typically between $250 and $2,500. With the opening of the home-use market, 3D printing has become a popular discussion topic.

3D printed guns have been controversial in recent years, but most 3D printed objects are little knick-knacks or pop culture paraphernalia. Now that 3D printing has been around for a while and engineers have made their fill of figurines and coffee mugs, innovative men and women are starting to test the limits of additive manufacturing.

Taiwanese inventors are currently perfecting a printer that recycles plastic cups by melting them down and using the plastic as material to print new objects. Men and women in California are working on a 3D printer that can be used in zero gravity, unlike other models that require the assistance of gravity. Mink is a prototype printer that can produce custom cosmetics. 3Doodler is a 3D printing pen that differs from other 3D printing technology because it does not require an original digital file, rather users can simply freehand their creations. Bioprinters may be the solution to transplant waiting lists, and chocolate printers produce delicious, edible creations. Finally, the Foodini boasts being able to print an entire pizza!

Technology will never cease to amaze as long as bright minds continue to push the boundaries of imagination. Today’s 3D printing technology is only the tip of the iceberg. For more news on current technology trends check out Secure Networker’s blog and stay updated on the latest IT know-how.