3D Printers: The next big thing - KMSP-TV

3D Printers: The next big thing

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

3D printing is the way of the future. The newest printers are using cement, steel and even salt in ways that could change how people live.

"When we think about printing, we are interested in printing with materials that are sustainable. Salt is an inherently sustainable material. It's harvested through evaporation from the sun," said Ronald Rael, CEO of Emerging Objects.

Imagine sitting on furniture or living in a home that was printed out. Material made of interlocking segments designed specifically for you or even by you. Currently, technology can make an architectural space.

Someday, the list of what you can print might be endless; such as human livers for transplantation. Although, the printers used to make your designs don't come cheap.

"Around $450-thousand, up to $1.5 million," Rael said.

However, for most people it isn't the printer you'll be buying, it's the software used to imagine whatever it is you plan to print. One example product is called Z-brush, made by Pixologic.

"It's like a ball of clay on your screen," Rael added.

Right now, Z-brush is used by some of the top video game designers and special effects artists for movies and TV.

"We're used in pretty much any movie you watch now, like The Avengers - The Hulk - Prometheus – in Man of Steel the suit that he's wearing, Henry Cavill is wearing, was all designed in Z-brush; including the ship that he comes to earth in - that was all designed in Z-brush and then printed out," said Paul Gaboury of Pixologic.

3-D printing is allowing Pixologic to expand into completely new markets.

"Things like toys, jewelry, dentists, forensic science, making collectibles, making giant statues…like this five foot tall T-Rex head…it's actually made of 300 smaller print-outs, glued together - or museum quality pieces that turn pure sculpting into computer design," Gaboury added.

The plastic used for printing starts at $30 per spool. Home 3D printers are also pretty slow, sometimes taking hours to complete a single object.

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