Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Desktop Factory Launch First Consumer 3D Printer

Regular vistors to my blog may recall the interveiw with Cathy Lewis, CEO of Desktop Factory.

She said the first version of the designed for 'businesses, schools and the home' 3D printer will be launched to market by end of 2007.

And Cathy and her team have done it!

The Jetsons-esque technology of fabricating three-dimensional objects is finally available for the home workshop, kitchen or den; and at a fraction of the cost of industrial machines.

Create your design on a PC, press 'print,' and voilĂ : you’ve got a new coffee cup, or washer for that darned dripping tap, or temporary whatever just to get you through the night — or just about any 'hard' plastic object that will fit inside the 5x5x5-inch chamber.

The 90-pound, microwave-size machine swaps the typical expensive printing materials for affordable nylon-based powder, which is hardened by a halogen lamp instead of a pricey laser and deposited in 0.01-inch layers onto a platform to build the final object.

Price: a mere $4,995; and expected to come down to less than $999 c.2011!

Synthetic DNA on the Brink of Yielding New Life Forms

It has been 50 years since scientists first created DNA in a test tube, stitching ordinary chemical ingredients together to make life's most extraordinary molecule.

Until recently, however, even the most sophisticated laboratories could make only small snippets of DNA (an extra gene or two to be inserted into corn plants to help the plants ward off insects for example).

Now researchers are poised to cross a dramatic barrier: the creation of brand new life forms driven by completely artificial DNA.

Scientists have already built the world's first entirely handcrafted chromosome: a large looping strand of DNA made from scratch in a laboratory, containing all the instructions a microbe needs to live and reproduce.

This year they intend to transplant it into a cell where it is expected to ‘boot itself up,’ like software downloaded from the Internet, and cajole the waiting cell to do its bidding.

And while the first synthetic chromosome is a plagiarized version of a natural one, others that code for life forms that have never existed before are already under construction.

This will be a watershed event, blurring the line between biological and artificial; and forcing a rethinking of what it means for a thing to be alive.