Have you ever heard of 3D printing? We have saw it in the making! Unterwelt is a small company in Rome that love open source technology and had a stand in Ludica convention. They use a kind of DIY plotter with vertical movement in addiction to horizontal one. It is technologically based on Arduino platform. Over a heated plate this plotter start to draw a plastic flux from the base of the object, going up, building the object layer after layer. The head of the plotter is like a syringe. A plastic wire, unwound from a roll, feed the syringe. A computer control the flux and the plotter. It is like built something by a microscopic tube of toothpaste. The plastic is melted by heat and after is firm up by ambient temperature. They use various plastic materials. One of them is that used for Lego bricks. The only fault is the slowness of the process, we are still in a pioneering phase, these are not industrial machineries that can built at enormous speeds.
On the photo you can see some objects that the machine created. In the making is a green foot. The parts of this plotter are partially created by another similar plotter. The machine replicate itself! The only necessity is to have a CAD project. The structures of the drone in the other photo are build with this 3D plotter! Drones build by a CAD project downloaded by internet! Moreover, if you have a 3D scanner you can replicate every kind of object without CAD programming. The kit to built this plotter is only 750 euro. Materials are cheap too. Ideal for professional modelling.
There is another company based on 3D printing services. It is called
Shapeways. They have a small miniatures catalogue, CAD draws that can become 3D objects. People design their pieces, upload them, and people can buy the final product. I have ordered a not so cheap 28mm Dalek miniature, just to taste the water. The future of miniatures production? Imagine: you need a specific piece and you want to give it an unique pose or aspect. 3D printing is the solution.