Low cost 3D metal printer unveiled

A team from Michigan Technological University (MTU) has developed a low cost, open-source 3D metal printer for a cool $1500 - considerably less than current devices on the market which can cost up to $500k.

The printer, which can form complex geometric shapes by laying down thin layers of steel, was created by Joshua Pearce from parts including a small commercial MIG welder and an open-source microcontroller. The detailed plans, software and firmware for the device have all been made freely available and open-source, meaning anyone can use them to make their own metal 3D printer at home. While the researchers admit that the printer is still a work in progress (so far, the most intricate piece they've created is a sprocket), they believe the technology could help the home 3D printing revolution get into full swing. Pearce commented: "Small and medium-sized enterprises would be able to build parts and equipment quickly and easily using downloadable, free and open-source designs, which could revolutionise the economy for the benefit of the many. "I really don't know if we are mature enough to handle it, but I think that with open-source approach, we are within reach of a Star Trek-like, post-scarcity society, in which 'replicators' can create a vast array of objects on demand, resulting in wealth for everyone at very little cost. Pretty soon, we'll be able to make almost anything."