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All the Items Fit to Print

By Samuel Greengard

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 56 No. 7, Pages 17-19

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3-D printing has come of age. It promises to revolutionize a wide range of industries and profoundly change the way people buy and consume.

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Alexander Kopilovich

It will become interesting when 3D printers appeared that are able to print their own copies. And it will become even more interesting when they will be equipped with internal advanced software, which enabled them to print more sophisticated/capable descendants than themselves. And yet another step will be addition to 3D printers some robotic capabilities for finding (around them) and selection accessible materials for printing. At this point, though, a competition for the materials between 3D printers may emerge, with the natural selection as a consequence (by the way, even if the original human designers refrain from equipping 3D printers with weapons for self-defense, some particularly advanced 3D printers may print the guns and ammunition themselves for their own use - if they accidentally found appropriate design). Finally, communication capabilities may be added to those robotic 3D printers so that they will create networks (or tribes) for cooperation in finding materials and making designs for printing. Just wonder: whether at this stage emerge some kind of specialization between them - for example, some of them specializing on their natural 3D printing function, while others specializing on mostly robotic function of providing (finding, selecting and competing for) raw materials for 3D printing.

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