12 INVESTIGATES: Price of 3D printers - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

12 INVESTIGATES: Price of 3D printers

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

It's considered a game changer for small business, even in the nation's gun control debate: 3D printers that goes beyond ink and paper.

"It's similar, it's similar... but just think of going in another direction," said Eric McMasters. He's an assistant professor who helps to run a 3D printing lab at VCU.

Using plastic, the printer creates real objects you can hold in your hand. They are based off of designs you create on a computer.

"It basically prints one layer of plastic at a time. It kind of works like a hot glue gun," said McMasters.

Here, art students test their sculptures. Medical students make micro-organisms life size. For entrepreneurs, 3D printing is a way to make your idea a reality, to test it, to see if it works.

"A lot of people are referring to the 3D printer as the fax of the future," said Kenneth Kahn, director of VCU's Da Vinci Center for Innovation. It's a place to test out design and development. A place real companies in Richmond help students bring their ideas to market.

"I think what's really interesting is you can order a design on the web. And potentially in the future that could actually be manufactured in your own house," said Kahn.

"You could order something, say, from Amazon, download it and print it at home," added McMasters.

We're not far off either. The price of the machines is dropping. They used to be anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000. Staples is about to be the first major US retailer to sell 3D printers. Their price is $1,300.

The printers are already being used for medical devices, like titanium hips. Companies are printing foundations for cheaper homes. Researchers are even trying to 3D print body parts with human cells. They are creating real skin.

Over the weekend, a Texas group says it made the first 3D printed gun that can actually fire a bullet.

Copyright 2013 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

  • Latest news from NBC12.comNEWSMore>>

  • Better late than never? Library book returned 78 years later

    Better late than never? Library book returned 78 years later

    Thursday, September 21 2017 7:51 PM EDT2017-09-21 23:51:20 GMT
    Saturday, September 23 2017 7:30 PM EDT2017-09-23 23:30:30 GMT

    A book borrowed nearly 80 years ago during the Great Depression has been returned to a Massachusetts public library.

    More >>

    A book borrowed nearly 80 years ago during the Great Depression has been returned to a Massachusetts public library.

    More >>
  • FIRST ALERT FORECAST: Patchy Dense Fog Overnight, Sun and Heat for Sunday

    FIRST ALERT FORECAST: Patchy Dense Fog Overnight, Sun and Heat for Sunday

    Saturday, September 23 2017 6:42 PM EDT2017-09-23 22:42:56 GMT

    Get the latest forecast from the NBC12 First Alert Weather team.

    More >>

    Get the latest forecast from the NBC12 First Alert Weather team.

    More >>
  • Woman hit and killed by van in Richmond

    Woman hit and killed by van in Richmond

    Saturday, September 23 2017 5:31 PM EDT2017-09-23 21:31:44 GMT
    A woman has died, after police say she was struck by a van in Richmond. Police say the woman was walking across the 1100 block of Azalea Avenue around 3 p.m. Saturday, when she was struck by a van turning left off Seminary Avenue. The driver of that van stayed on the scene. Police say the woman was already dead when they got to the scene. The driver is not facing charges at this time. The investigation continues, as police work to notify the victim's family.

    More >>

    A woman has died, after police say she was struck by a van in Richmond. Police say the woman was walking across the 1100 block of Azalea Avenue around 3 p.m. Saturday, when she was struck by a van turning left off Seminary Avenue. The driver of that van stayed on the scene. Police say the woman was already dead when they got to the scene. The driver is not facing charges at this time. The investigation continues, as police work to notify the victim's family.

    More >>

Powered by Frankly