How 3D printing could take over the manufacturing industry

Imagine a machine that could disassemble old unwanted objects, and use the materials to print new objects — all in the comfort of your own home

3D printer
(Image credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The laptop I typed this article on is the culmination of a vast, sprawling, and elaborate process over many continents, using many resources, many people, and many machines.

My laptop's construction incorporates plastics built out of crude oil, metals mined in Africa and forged into memory in Korea and semiconductors in Germany, and an aluminium case made from bauxite mined in Brazil. Gallons and gallons of refined oil were used to ship all the resources and components around the world, until they were finally assembled in China, and shipped out once again to the consumer. That manufacturing process stands upon the shoulders of centuries of scientific research, and years of product development, testing, and marketing.

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