CNET UK trotted along to the 3D Print Show in London last week -- click through the photos above to examine some of the marvellous items crafted using this fast-advancing technology, and hit play on the video below for an investigation into the future of 3D printing.
3D printing involves sending a virtual object -- designed in 3D modelling software -- to a printer, which then builds the item layer by layer out of gloopy plastic or another material.
Although still a relatively new technology, the art of building bits and pieces out of plastic has come a long way in a short space of time. You can use 3D printers to build extremely detailed objects, and if you print several items that are designed to slot together, you can produce things that have moving parts.
At the show I got a glimpse of the plastic-printed future, from exotic shoes and buttons to elegantly designed prosthetic limbs -- scanned and virtually sculpted for an ideal fit.
The most fascinating element of the show for me, however, was checking out 3D-printed objects that had been designed by a computer algorithm. The first picture above shows a concept house, which a computer decided was the ideal shape for a human domicile. Oddly enough, it looks bizarrely organic.
The model is to scale of course, but I was told that the eventual plan is to design a home that can be printed out at full size, in sections. Best of all, to get the plans for a new house, lamp or musical instrument, you'd only have to download a file and send it to your printer.
Exciting stuff, I'm sure you'll agree. Peruse the photos above, check out the video and tell me what you'd like to see printed in plastic in the comments or on our Facebook wall.