Desktop 3D printing has lost its novelty value a bit, but new printing materials that MakerBot plans to release will soon make it a lot more interesting again.
MakerBot is one of the best-known makers of desktop 3D printers, and at CES this week it announced that late this year its products will be able to print objects using composite materials that combine plastic with wood, metal or stone. Printing such materials isn't new, but has previously been available only through much more expensive industrial 3D printers.
At the CES show in Vegas, I handled a 3D-printed hammer made from composites of maple and iron, and I came away impressed. It was a bit lighter than a real hammer but still had some heft to it, and the surface of the wood actually looked and felt like wood grain. It even smelled of wood, because there is real wood in the composite.
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