Just imagine what it will be like in the future. We will all have one of these printers at home and just print anything we need. In Star Trek they call these replicators – Deskarati –
3-D printing has changed the way that engineers and designers prototype things, but it hasn’t really made its way into mainstream manufacturing yet. But engineers at EADS, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, are making strides by using a process called additive layer manufacturing, which uses a laser to melt plastic, nylon or metal powders in layers until the finished product is “printed.” EADS used the technique to print a fully functional bike out of nylon, which the company says is as strong as steel. Despite its strength, it’s a full 65-percent lighter than a comparable aluminum bicycle. It’s also more environmentally friendly to produce than a traditional metal bike, and replacement parts can easily be printed and swapped for damaged ones.
Don’t expect to see custom printed bikes in stores any time soon, however. The Airbike, as its called, was primarily an exercise to prove what was possible with additive layer manufacturing. It does prove that it’s possible to print high-strength parts, and the process may soon replace molds for smaller components, as it’s less wasteful than pouring molten plastic into a shape.