Luckily I recently printed some tungsten boots!
What started out as an art project using Australian think-tank CSIRO's additive titanium 3D printer has turned out to have much more serious application: scaled-up versions of microscopic bugs that make it easier to study their biology. Originally, the minute insects from the Australian National Insect Collection were scanned …
Now how about using 3D printing to actually make something useful............
For prototyping parts that cannot be easily bashed out on a CNC mill, it is exceptionally useful and indeed what they are most often used for. Architectural models are also useful things, and are more usefully 3D printed than painstakingly hand-assembled. But maybe that isn't useful enough for you? How about a 3D printed metal replacement jawbone?
Now how about using 3D printing to actually make something useful............*
I think your inability to see how this application is useful shows only your lack of imagination.
By using this technology to produce scaled-up versions of insects, it allows for easier study, for instance allowing two entomologists to study the same subjewct, or copies of it, at the same time, and to more easily study the morphology in three dimensions without the need for a microscope.
If you think entomology itself is useless, you should consider that it is generally thought that insects make up 80% of all animal species on the planet. They often provide useful and important ecosystem functions, such as pollination and saprophytic recycling of organic matter. Without insects, our crops would fail, and we'd be living on top of a miles-deep mound of putrifying corpses. It is only through understanding the complexities of the planet's ecosystems and the complex interplay of the orgaisms they contain that we can hope to continue our existence as a species on the Earth.
Your definition of useful, however, probably doesn't involve increaing the net knowledge of the human race, it probably relates to grubbing more resources for your own consumption and gaining power and influence over others.
*FYI, an ellipsis is three dots, not twelve
Sadly a quick check revealed that you can print your own dildo. For the really vain you can also print an action doll (as in - Action Man, GI Joe, Barbie ) with your face, and the body you always wanted. There's a Big bang Theory episode where they did just that, though not with much success.
"Look at the size of these little buggers!
Isn't it AMAZIN' !"!
Or Les Hiddins, the bush tucker man:
"These bugs mighn't look very appetizin', but they're full of minerals, particularly titanium"
In general, 3D Printers don't print things. They print parts for things. Unless the thing is one part, then the part is the thing. There are exceptions, such as printing an already-interlocked chain just for fun.
When I ask when a 3D Printer can print another 3D printer, the brain damaged idiots reply "But we can!" and they point to a plastic bracket. They completely fail to explain why eBay is awash with all the stepper motors, cables, control circuits, etc. required to make it work - comprising 20% of the mass, but 99.99+% of the complexity. Those Chinese parts and sub-assemblies are cheap and often include free shipping.
But they're not 3D printed. At the risk of being proven wrong in about 25 years, they never will be.
There's a huge difference between 25 years and forever, or even just 250 years. I'm sure back in Faraday's time, the majority view was that electricity would never be of much use to anyone ... and of course, the famous quote that there might be a world market for a dozen or so computers.
A billion years of forever gave us self-replicators that didn't even need printers. (Or sex, for that matter ... sex was new in Life 2.0, or maybe 3.0 or 3.1)
Today's example just landed in my Inbox.
Headline = "Researchers 3D print microbatteries"
Details = "Microscopic electrodes extruded... ...3D print precisely interlaced stacks of tiny battery electrodes"
Spot the difference? Complex batteries vs. simple electrodes. They did *not* "...3D print microbatteries." They did 3D print some homogenous metal electrodes.
They're not printing things; they're printing *parts* of things.
The stench of hype wafts across the landscape.
Titanium. With a big enough magnifying glass, probably rather better than you expected. Rather an oops, requiring immediate retreat, and I hope you are outdoors. Sand won't put it out, and adding water would be like throwing petrol at an ordinary fire. Think Aluminium (thermite) on steroids.
Now we know the truth.
Turns out the Atlanteans made it to the Moon, unfortunately the asteroid they failed to see wiped them out before they could plant a colony.
Their nature inspired robot replicators however, survived but lay dormant until say the early 1970's...
That "Russian Lander" was quite a bit older than NASA thought, of course the Moon would preserve it perfectly and the technology being based on a completely different sort of science using atomic scale manufacturing would seem positively magical even by today's standards.
Could also explain the Roswell crash, turns out it was one of the boosters from said c20000BC "Apollo" program.
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