The replicator is real

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I was at my annual tax appointment catching up with my tax guy while he entered all of my financial stats into his system when he said, “Do remember the replicator from Star Trek?” That caught me a little off guard, but I said, “Sure I do.”

He launched into this crazy conversation, “You know the replicator is real now, right? They’ve got one and it can make planes, machines, you name it and it can do it.” I figured he was talking about the cool 3D machine that MakerBot recently announced at SXSW. But he was much more serious. And in his mind this new machine was only a mini version of what really exists. I have to admit I totally loved his science fiction conspiracy theory.

The reason this was top of mind for my tax guy was that my tax appointment happened during the same week as the infamous SXSW event in Austin, TX. During the interactive portion of this event, the coolest new things in technology happened to turn up. MakerBot drew a lot of interest and got a lot of press because their founder and CEO, Bre Pettis announced a new Digitizer  machine that uses lasers for 3D imaging and printing.

The Digitizer prototype device showcased at the interactive portion of SWSW can scan cylinder-shaped objects between 2 inches and 8 inches high and work fine under indoor light, even though it is using lasers. This new 3D machine and their other 3D Replicator products bring desktop prototyping to a wider audience with costs in the $2,000 range.

What would you do with a replicator-type machine? More than just for making food like on the Star Trek series, these new machines can reproduce anything you can imagine and bring it to life. Big questions come from this, too. What about reproducing something that is the intellectual property (IP) of someone else? How do we protect the IP of others and even or ourselves if these machines become prevalent? Or what if these machines make all of us workers obsolete as my tax guy hypothesized?

This kind of new technology brings with it big questions to think through. But it sure would be fun to have one of these at home so I can make backups of all the toys my son is so good at breaking.

What do you think about this kind of technology? What fun would you have with it? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

About the author


Is a west coast gal who has settled down in Colorado. She loves to write, cook and play outdoors. If you don’t find her at work, she’ll probably be out riding her bicycle, at the pool with her kids or curled up on her couch with her face buried in a book.

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