Low cost 3D metal printer unveiled

Written by: Laura Hopperton | Published:
Brilliant work - this really could change everything. This may be more useful to businesses in the ...

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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."

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Brilliant work - this really could change everything. This may be more useful to businesses in the short term - I know we could use one at our firm now -- but how will the economy change when their is essentially no more monopolies?

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