Go Download Me A Hoagie!

The title may be misleading. There is currently no way to download yourself a hoagie from the internet, at least not one you could eat. Your best bet is most likely to find your favorite sub shop nearby and give them a phone call to order some delivery. Downloading 3D objects however is entirely possible.

Rapid prototyping machines have been available in research and University settings for more than a decade. The technology is one that is rapidly (no pun intended) advancing even as we speak. It was curious however to find that a quick Google of “3D fax machine” left me with articles dating back to 2008, 2006 and even as far as 2001. Newer sensationalist journalism just isn’t as easy to come by as it used to be, it seems.

But this leaves me to wonder, just where is the technology promised us by the science fiction of Hollywood movies? I am able to design a 3D object in some basic AutoCAD software and send it to a rapid prototyper in the same room. I can just as easily e-mail that file to a friend in Budapest, Hungary and have them print out a nearly identical part to the one that I just created myself. The proof of concept works, it is simply in the materials these machines build with. Some use clay, foam or different types of sand and other materials to build their models on a compartmentalized process. I hope that in the near future, these machines are able to work with more materials and eventually even incorporate multiple materials in to the same model. Imagine ordering something like a remote control and watching the plastics, silicon and rubber all form in front of your eyes! The possibilities are really only limited byt he mediums available to work with. I look forward to spending my retirement fund of the future on a brand new 3D fax.


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