It seems as if there's no limit to the possibilities of 3-D printers. In 2013, an international controversy was ignited over the ethics of printing a gun. That same year, NASA began experimenting with printing a pizza to test the possibilities of creating food in space. In 2014, a printer was sent to the International Space Station where it successfully printed one of its own missing parts. It's the tech of the future.
(via CBS Entertainment)
Yet if these attributes seem at all familiar to you, chances are you're a fan of science fiction. In fact, you're probably a fan of Star Trek. Who would argue that the abilities of a top-of-the-line printer don't suggest those of the "replicator" used by Captain Picard and his crew? As a franchise, Star Trek has influenced everything from medical technology to mobile tablets; it only makes sense that 3-D printers would follow suit.
With that in mind, a new 3-D printer seeks to mimic another high-tech wonder from the famous franchise: the transporter.
Beam Me Up, Scotty.
Designed by the Hasso Plattner Institute in Germany, the system – knowingly named “Scotty” – consists of two MakerBots working in tandem. An object is placed in one MakerBot and scanned. As the object is recreated in the second MakerBot, the one in the first is whittled away, leaving only the copy. The process is similar to the way Star Trek's transporters wouldn't move objects so much as recreate copies of them in another place.
(via Hasso-Plattner Institut)
Though still in its infancy, Scotty's creators foresee the system being most useful in online shopping. Imagine scrolling through Amazon and having the cutlery set you ordered appear in a matter of minutes rather than weeks.
As the possibilities (and concerns) of 3-D printing increase, so do the potential benefits. As more developers and consumers begin to explore those possibilities, who knows where they will boldly go from here?