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Lost Your Wrench? Print a New One...Is This the Future of Tools?

comments (1) July 22nd, 2011 in Blogs
JFink Justin Fink, Senior Editor

Video Length: 4:54
Produced by: National Geographic

I stumbled across this cool video from a National Geographic TV show on the tools used by astronauts.

You saw it on Star Trek, and it turns out that reality isn't too far off the mark. A Burlington, MA outfit called Z Corporation is producing 3D printers, which can create fully-functional complex objects, including moving parts, right out of the machine - no assembly required.

Don't believe me? Check out the Crescent wrench they made in this video...

posted in: Blogs
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Comments (1)

Georgio_Caparella Georgio_Caparella writes: These systems have been out there for at least a decade or so. They're getting better, and there are other options on the market. Stratasys ( is probably one of the bigger competitors of Z-Corp with their Dimension line of FDM "printers". The caveat with either is that without secondary treatment, the parts are much weaker than molded plastic or metal counterparts. They're great though from a product development standpoint, as you can get the fit and feel of something in just a few hours compared to a day or two for conventional rapid prototyping technologies (i.e., SLA).

An even niftier technology that I have worked with is called direct laser metal sintering (DLMS). As far as I know, EOS out of Germany is the only maker of these machines, which uses a laser to melt powdered metal (stainless steel, cobalt chrome, titanium, and others) into a form. There's a lot of machining work that needs to be done afterwords, but it can give you results in a fraction of the time for machining or other technologies (urethane casting, etc.). Read more:

(Disclaimer: My day job is as a mechanical engineer working in the medical device industry, and I have no affiliation with any of these companies. If I've neglected to include all of the options out there, that is not my intention.)
Posted: 8:12 am on July 27th

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