3D printing spurs a manufacturing revolution

New technology is giving rise to never-before-possible businesses that are selling products such as iPhone cases, architectural models, and even low-cost, customizable prosthetic limbs, reports the New York Times. San Francisco-based Bespoke Innovations is using advances in a technology known as 3D printing to create prosthetic limb casings wrapped in embroidered leather, shimmering metal, or whatever else someone might want. Scott Summit, a co-founder of Bespoke, and his partner, an orthopedic surgeon, are set to open a studio this fall where they will sell the limb coverings and experiment with printing entire customized limbs that could cost a tenth of comparable artificial limbs made using traditional methods. A 3D printer, which has nothing to do with paper printers, creates an object by stacking one layer of material—typically plastic or metal—on top of another, much the same way a pastry chef makes baklava with sheets of phyllo dough. The technology has been radically transformed from its origins as a tool used by manufacturers and designers to build prototypes. These days, it is giving rise to a string of never-before-possible businesses. And while some wonder how successfully the technology will make the transition from manufacturing applications to producing consumer goods, its use is exploding…

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Laura Ascione

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