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Print me a mobo

Scott Wasson
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OK, this article at the New Scientist has to be one of the coolest things I’ve seen in quite a while. It’s about “3D printing”—but it’s not necessarily what you might think. 3D printing is essentially on-the-spot fabrication of material goods. Judging by what they’re saying in the article, this tech is real, here and now, and some very cool applications are coming soon. Get a load of this project going on at Rutgers university:

Over the past five years they have 3D-printed electronic components from ceramic materials that can be insulating, semiconducting or fully conducting, depending on their exact composition. That provides almost everything that’s needed from modern electronics systems, and the materials can all be laid down together in a single print run. The technique could be used, for instance, to print out a new motherboard for your computer. You could custom design your new board by picking options from a menu on a website, pay for it online and download the design. Then, satisfied with the result, you press Print and have the latest in ceramic electronics installed in less time than it would have taken to drive to the shops.

Danforth’s group has now begun to use ceramics to 3D-print electromechanical components such as sensors and actuators. They can print features as small as 0.2 millimetres, and hope to halve that minimum size over the next couple of years. “We’re looking at writing circuit elements: things that would serve as capacitors, resistors, conductors and even battery materials,” Danforth says.

Amazing. “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.” “Motherboard. Abit. Hot.” The mind boggles. Small-scale material goods production on the desktop.

Of course, this will mean information is more valuable than ever. Wait ’til the lawyers hear about Abitster.

(Saw this link at Slashdot.)

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