Valerie Brown

3-D Printing Is Getting Huge Hype, But It Could Be One Massive Health Risk

For geeks who ardently wish those Star Trek replicators were for real, the dream is coming closer to reality in the form of three-dimensional printing. The technology is changing the way prototyping, testing, and even manufacturing parts is done for everything from knee joints to jet engine fuel injectors. It’s also sweeping the world of do-it-yourself garage tinkerers and home-based jewelry designers. The 3-D printing market totaled $3.07 billion last year and sales of desktop 3-D printers under $5,000 grew by 346 percent between 2008 and 2011, according to a May 2014 report from Wohlers Associates, a Fort Collins, Colorado consulting firm. Desktop models are about the size of a large PC tower and require only normal household power. The least expensive machines range from $100 to $500.

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