There's no doubt that 3D printing is one of the coolest technologies released over the past decade, and given all we've seen from it up to this point, there's also no doubt that it's going to be a big part of our future. While today's 3D printers are still limited in what they can do, they've already been capable of creating usable exoskeletons for those who need them, and that's beyond cool.
But, we're still at the beginning of what will be possible with 3D printing. Earlier this year, we learned of an advanced printer that would allow its users to print in multiple colors, and overall, that's a big advance in the technology. Now, though, researchers at MIT have delivered a prototype for something even more impressive: a printer that can manage 10 materials at once.
This printer came to fruition thanks to the work of researchers in MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, also known as CSAIL. Their printer is designed to be more user-friendly, create better objects, and not surprisingly, be cheaper.
With its "MultiFab" system, this printer takes advantage of machine-vision, which avails the major advantage of being able to self-calibrate and self-correct. This is important, because even those printers out there that range in the $100,000+ range require a lot of user intervention - MultiFab promises to reduce that dramatically.
Another major perk with MultiFab is that it'd allow users to create circuits and sensors, and with a resolution of 40 microns (half the width of a human hair), it could prove quite useful for this purpose.
Considering where we were with 3D printing only a few years ago, to see a printer like this on the horizon is awesome. And, of course, it does well to instill confidence that we're far from done. This is proving to be a very exciting market to keep an eye on.