August 1, 2014
How 3-D Printing Will Change Our Lives (JAVIER ESPINOZA, July 31, 2014, WSJ)
Posted by Orrin Judd at August 1, 2014 4:11 PMEARLIER THIS YEAR, a hapless penguin at the Warsaw Zoo lost his lower beak, either in a fall or a fight, and there were concerns that the bird might starve to death because the damage left him unable to eat. Omni3D, a Polish 3-D printer firm, came to the rescue, offering to produce a new beak--based on a dead penguin's, to get an idea of the dimensions--from materials including nylon.According to Rozi Mikołajczak, a spokesperson for the Poznan-based firm, this is the first time in Europe (and only the second time in the world) that a bird's beak has been reconstructed using 3-D technology. Unsure which material would be best for the penguin, they created three for the zoo to find a match. Modeling the beaks was time consuming: it took two weeks to complete them. As luck would have it, the penguin's beak started to grow back so there was no need for the manufactured one, but this inspirational exercise illustrates how 3-D printing is crossing frontiers all the time, opening up new possibilities.Ms. Mikołajczak, for one, believes it will become a mainstream technology in the long term. "20 years ago, if you heard the Internet would be in each house, it would have been incredible, but now we can't live without Wi-Fi," she says. "In 10 years' time, 3-D printing will be everywhere; it will be our everyday reality."
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