Have you got access to a 3D printer? Well lucky you, because as we're rapidly learning, the possibilities are virtually endless. And if your tastes lean towards the automotive (as we'd assume they do if you're reading this page), we've got good news.
Vehicles with manual transmissions have been equipped with shift indicators (illuminated or audible) for decades. While some are used to improve performance, most are designed to encourage more fuel-efficient driving. Regardless of the original objective, nearly all drivers become desensitized or learn to ignore the illuminated lights and arrows after just a few short hours behind the wheel.
In an attempt to build future vehicles or improve upon current models, many automakers have turned to 3D printers to create and test new prototype parts. Considering how important new cars are, you'd think automakers would spare no expense when acquiring such tools, but Ford is proving that 3D printers are not only affordable, but that they could someday become a household answer for many problems.
If you haven't taken a second lift your head and look around, we have news for you: we live in the future. This is a world where we can bark orders into a small handheld device and instantly get answers. One where we can sketch up a design on a computer, press print and a machine will carve it out in exacting detail as many times as we like. Now someone has figured out how to scale-down 3D printing to create even smaller designs. How small? How about a 1 centimeter-long plastic car with function
The Urbee concept vehicle has an interesting story to go with its sci-fi looks. See, the body was not built in the classic sense, but rather it was printed. Three dimensional printing has seen significant growth in certain markets, like with design and engineering firms looking for rapid prototyping. However, even very expensive 3D printers are limited to printing small objects that can fit in, at most, a few cubic feet. Stratasys, a 3D printing company, teamed up with engineering group Kor Ecol