Deep in the heart of the south, Kickstarter-funded, Atlanta-based Hyrel has begun prototyping what could be among the next generation of 3D printers - a full-color printer. The Hyrel unit, presently in development, will use a three-color extruder head to blend red, green and blue color strands together to create any color the user might need in their 3D model. These colors can then be printed at any opacity, allowing for even finer control over the texture, shading and overall color of the product.
Roughly 20 years ago on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Picard could order a piping hot Earl Grey tea from the replicator and have it materialize before him within seconds.
We’re not quite there yet (and you’re no Patrick Stewart), but if you’ve got a Mac and a little extra time, you can happily print up a drinking glass, an iPhone case, a cufflink featuring Stephen Colbert’s head, toy starships--just about anything you can create (or download) a three-dimensional model of.