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These 'printers' make 3-D stuff

Plastic extrusion machines that can make 3-D objects will be commonplace in homes one day, people in the field believe.

May 29, 2010|By Nathan Olivarez-Giles, Los Angeles Times

It's a made-to-order business — an item isn't manufactured by Shapeways until an order for it comes in. The designer gets the money marked up from the cost of manufacturing, minus a 3.5% fee that goes to Shapeways.

The website, which was launched in 2008, has featured items by 30,000 people.

"There is a group that really wants to know about 3-D printing and how it works, but there is also even a bigger group that just wants the end result," Weijmarshausen said. "In the end it doesn't really matter to the end user how we make it. It only matters that they can get their custom product."

But at Crash Space, club members don't mind if their creations come out a little rough. For them, the attraction is largely that they can envision an item, design it and then push a button to make it real.

"You don't have to build hundreds of one item to justify the manufacturing costs," said club member Jerry Isdale, a 51-year-old unemployed software engineer. "You don't have to own a factory.

"This can change the way things are built."

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