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Low cost three-dimensional metal printer revealed

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Joshua Pearce and his team from Michigan Technological University announced their development of an inexpensive three-dimensional metal printer in the Dec. 2, 2013, issue of the journal IEEE Access.

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The researcher’s printer costs about $1500 compared to the $500,000 that inexpensive metal printers go for at present.

The relatively simple unit is composed of an open-source microcontroller and a small commercial MIG (metal inert gas) welder.

The plans and design are free to anyone that wants to download and construct a three- dimensional metal printer that costs less than most three-dimensional plastic printers do at present.

The advantages of the device for economically advanced countries are lower costs for metal goods made at home, the creation of new products at a very low cost, and a more ecologically friendly method of three-dimensional printing than plastic.

Existing industries will be able to use the device to produce replacement parts in a fraction of the time that present ordering processes take. Engineering design can be made more functional through the ability to make a working model of a new concept for a few dollars.

The advantages for developing countries are the ability to develop relatively complex equipment and industries for a fraction of the cost of constructing equipment and facilities that can produce the same materials. The little device can also prevent the overcoming influence of other countries in the development of industry in emerging nations.

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