If you follow the 3D printing space for a while then you eventually get to hear some of the less practial or sensible “future” predictions for the technology. Like this one I heard today: 3D printed steak. You’d have a 3D printer in the restaurant and the customer would simply select ‘rare’, ‘medium rare’ or ‘well done’ and the 3D printer would print you a customized steak to your precise gastronomical specifications – and there is even the case that such a steak could be considered vegetarian since it never came from a live animal! Fantastic.
Luckily, we have something a little more useful for you in today’s blog post – the prospect of 3D printing parts for a 3D printer. The fear/attraction of the self-perpetuating machine has already been drilled into us through popular science fiction culture (Skynet for example – probably based on Asimov’s idea of a global computer that becomes self-aware). So it’s only natural that 3D printing enthusiasts would imagine a self-perpetuating 3D printer that is able to re-create parts for itself.
Well, sorry to burst the bubble, but 3D printing has already been doing that for quite some time already. This video I shot right here at Stratasys HQ shows how a 3D printed part in Objet ABS-like Digital Material (exclusive to the Objet Connex system) is drilled and assembled to functionally test a new design tweak in an Objet desktop 3D printer. It’s not an end-use part per se, but the material is certainly tough enough for the prototyping needs of our design team here! Welcome to the future then?