Chocolate. iPhone covers. The calls of the wooly mammoth--we get it. 3-D printing is novel, often leads to real innovation, and eliminates friction in rapid prototyping and scientific and entrepreneurial endeavors. It even hints at a mouthwatering future where an epic burrito can be squeezed out from a desktop device at the slightest twinge of a fourth-meal craving.
But it's practically a universal rule: The moment someone uses new tech to make a fetus, it's time to pump the brakes. Not every one of the following 3-D printed things is absurd. Some are inventive, but inventive isn't the same as innovative. And the couple of entries here that do have use are just odd. But they're unquestionably the symbols of the dawn of 3-D printing, a time we'll look back on as an "experimental phase," like the semester in college when you tried out an asymmetrical haircut or a creative facial hair scheme.
Here's the weirdness--coming right at your face.
Of all the dicey junk you're about to see, this 3-D printed ear actually makes some medical sense and hints at a future when DNA injected "ink" could be used to grow all kinds of body parts (make room in your "kitsch" closet!). But ... it's freaky. As freaky as that time scientists grew an ear on a mouse's back? No. But still, what is it with bio-geeks and disembodied ears?
Hey, cops, you should be more careful. Because you never know when a criminal will find out where to buy a 3-D printer, find the necessary materials, engineer the shape of a skeleton key (or ok, buy one on the Internet that someone else made) that will open handcuffs, and then just hang on to the key in case he or she ever gets handcuffed, because then he or she could get out of those handcuffs, and then you'd have to shoot them. All because of 3-D printing. Nice one, technology.
Mmm, tasty face. Your face. The "Eat Your Face Machine" (EYFM), which prints your own face out of chocolate is, we suppose, innovative, in that it deliciously disrupts big narcissism.
Take junior to the park, to the zoo, to a Broadway show! Use him to keep important papers from blowing away--the potential uses for a 3-D printed replica of your unborn child are virtually unlimited. Sure your zygote tchotchke will set you back $1,275, but can you really put a price on spending quality time with your son or daughter before he or she is born? Plus, this will look stunning on the coffee table underneath your dead skin lamp.
Dear engineer Michael Guslick, congratulations, genius. You printed a working assault rifle, and "it wasn't that difficult," although it's apparently too "large and ungainly" for practical use--like, what? Good thing technology is no good at constantly making things smaller. By the time you've finished this sentence, Ted Nugent will have used the AK-473D to kill seven bucks, two doe, a panther, and a Texas death row inmate.
Collage by Joel ArbajeForbesImage: Flickr user Jon FifeRepRap