RadioRotary interviews Dr. Dan Freedman, Dean of the School of Science and Engineering at SUNY-New Paltz, who leads both the Digital Design and Fabrication curriculum at the school and the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center, specialists in the art of printing solid objects, known as 3-D printing. The first 3-D printers became available in 1986. They create objects, usually by laying down layers of plastic that build up to produce a solid plastic object (sometimes other materials are used). Each layer is formed in essentially the same way as an ink-jet printer reproduces a computerized image on paper, but plastic is used instead of ink. A computer program written with computer-assisted design (CAD), directs the process, so any object once designed can be printed as often as one likes. Among the triumphs of the process is the ability to print organs, including a plastic hand that actually grasps under control of the muscles in the arm.
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