3-D printers are the next big thing …ask the guy that’s printing out a replica Aston Martin DB4 sports car piece by piece.
Ivan Sentch loves the DB4 but can’t reach the price tag – which runs from £220,000 to £1.2 million depending on the condition of the car.
Instead, he’s building a body shell from 3-D printing and mounting the finished item on the running gear from a 1993 Nissan Skyline GTS, which are cheap and available in New Zealand.
To reach the end of the project, Sentch will have to print off each piece in four inch square blocks and glue them together to make a form.
He will then have to apply resin and sand down the body several times before he reaches an acceptable shell for the car.
Replicating an Aston Martin DB4 is just one application for a 3-D printer and will cost a fraction of the price of a real Aston Martin.
One suggestion is space missions or expeditions to out of the way places can carry a printer to replicate lost or broken parts for equipment rather than carry spares.
The printers are cheap – costing from just £200 plus consumables and the makers boast the only limit to what the machine can make is limited by the user’s imagination.
Other applications include generating props for historical films and TV dramas.
Photographers often use printed 3-D replicas to replace expensive luxury designer brand goods in photoshoots.
Doctors are even experimenting with 3-D replica body parts for patients.
But the main market is domestic. Instead of buying products from shops, consumers will buy a 3-D plan to download to their printer and make the item themselves as many times as they want.
Business applications for 3-D printing
The technology works by feeding 3-D co-ordinates into a printer that then prints them out as thin layers that build on top of each other into the programmed shape.
The barrier to the technology is designing the 3-D plan of the object to replicate.
Once the software breakthrough is made that allows non-technical users to scan and replicate objects, scientists foresee a time when every home will have a 3-D printer.
Delivery firm UPS is already installing advanced 3-D printers in branches in the US in a bid to become the go to place for customers wanting 3-D printing.
“Owners of small businesses are big fans of the idea and told us they wanted to print their own prototypes, artistic rendering and promotional materials,” said a spokesman.