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Fledgling 3-D printing industry finds home in NYC

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Posted August 8, 2013
In this Wednesday, June 19, 2013 photo, an engineer at Shapeways removes finished products from a 3D Printer at the company's factory in the Queens borough of New York. Shapeways' production process is fairly simple. Anyone can upload a 3-D design to Shapeways website and submit an order to have it "printed" in plastic at the factory. The company charges based on the amount of material a design uses and then ships the final product to the customer. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

In this Wednesday, June 19, 2013 photo, an engineer at Shapeways removes finished products from a 3D Printer at the company’s factory in the Queens borough of New York. Shapeways’ production process is fairly simple. Anyone can upload a 3-D design to Shapeways website and submit an order to have it “printed” in plastic at the factory. The company charges based on the amount of material a design uses and then ships the final product to the customer. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

It looks like a bakery. A warm glow emanates from the windows of big, oven-like machines, and a dusting of white powder covers everything.

 

This space in an anonymous building in New York’s Long Island City neighborhood, just across the river from Manhattan, isn’t cooking up breads and pastries, however. It’s a factory, filled with 3-D printers “baking” items by blasting a fine plastic dust with lasers.

When a production run is done, a cubic foot (0.0283 cubic meters) of white dust comes out of each machine. Packed inside the loose powder like dinosaur bones in sand are hundreds of unique products, from custom iPhone cases to action figures to egg cups.

Manufacturing is coming back to New York, but not in a shape anyone’s seen before. The movement to take 3-D printing into the mainstream has found a home in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S.

New York’s factories used to build battleships, stitch clothing and refine sugar, but those industries have largely departed. In recent years, manufacturing has been leaving the U.S. altogether. But 3-D printing is a different kind of industry, one that doesn’t require large machinery or smokestacks.

Read more at: Phys.org

 

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