Print guns, cars, jewellery and kidneys

Print guns, cars, jewellery and kidneys

PARIS - From replacement kidneys to guns, cars, prosthetics and works of art, 3-D printing is predicted to transform our lives in the coming decades, as dramatically as the Internet did before it.

"I have no doubt it is going to change the world," researcher James Craddock told AFP at the two-day 3D Printshow in Paris which wrapped up on Saturday.

A member of the 3D Printing Research Group at Britain's Nottingham University, Mr Craddock nevertheless predicted that use of 3-D printing would be limited.

"You wouldn't want to make a cup from a 3-D printer because it would probably fall apart, leak or poison you, but you would use it for high-value, beautiful items or replacement parts," he said.

Here is a selection of the potential future uses of 3-D printing:

Arms

Californian engineering company Solid Concepts said earlier this month it had produced a metal replica of a classic 1911 shotgun.

US entrepreneur and inventor Brook Drumm, however, warned that the process of printing a gun would be slow, expensive and potentially dangerous, requiring lasers at high temperatures, lots of power and hazardous materials.

Metal printers can cost around US$250,000 (S$311,500) and "the particulates are so fine that your skin could absorb them through the pores. The materials are not safe", he said.

The gun itself - unless made out of metal - would also be unreliable.

"There's a lot of moving parts in a gun and they need to be precise," he said, adding that he tried to print a plastic gun but gave up because it took so long.

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