by David L. Chandler
Imagine being able to “print” an entire house. Or a four-course dinner. Or a complete mechanical device such as a cuckoo clock, fully assembled and ready to run. Or a printer capable of printing … yet another printer?
These are no longer sci-fi flights of fancy. Rather, they are all real (though very early-stage) research projects underway at MIT, and just a few ways the Institute is pushing forward the boundaries of a technology it helped pioneer nearly two decades ago. A flurry of media stories this year have touted three-dimensional printing — or “3DP” — as the vanguard of a revolution in the way goods are produced, one that could potentially usher in a new era of “mass customization.”