3-D printing advances, producing a flute

Some 3-D printers are now creating items you can actually stick a price tag on, like lamps and clothes.

Three dimensional printers have always had that certain neat-o factor, even though the machines were used primarily to produce simple prototypes of products.

But the technology has advanced considerably over the past few years. Some 3-D printers are now creating items you can actually stick a price tag on, like lamps and clothes. As SmartPlanet's Joe McKendrick had already noted , companies like Bespoke Innovations have used 3-D printers to make prosthetic limbs for the disabled. And in Belgium, a 3-D printing company named i.materialise just opened the first store for 3-D printed housewares.

Three-dimensional printers print out objects through a process in which the machine lays out the source material one layer at a time based on design specifications. The most sophisticated 3-D printers can cost upwards of 100,000 dollars, according to The New York Times.

To demonstrate just how sophisticated 3-D printing has become, a college student named Amit Zoran used an Objet Connex500, a machine capable of assembling multiple materials, to print out a flute.

Zoran, who conducts research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had already received some attention last year when he unveiled a concept design for a food printer.

Although the flute wasn't quite perfect, the mere achievement of producing a working musical instrument that involves a high degree of finely tuned craftsmanship is still pretty impressive. Don't you think?

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com