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3D printers are here and they may eventually allow you to produce your own products in your own home. Not surprisingly, one of the first products tested by a user was a handgun.
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Few people will recognise that machine as a 3D printer now, but that is likely to change quickly as they become more and more available. AFP
3D printers, more than a new toy
For little more than the price of a high-quality laptop, computer enthusiasts can now get a new "toy": a 3D printer.
Its uses are still rather limited, but experts say they could soon be at the centre of a new industrial revolution.
A 3D printer in action. The basic idea is quite simple. AFP
The basic idea is simple enough.
First, a 3D digital design is created either from scratch on a computer or by scanning a real object, before being cut into two-dimensional "slices" which are computer-fed into a printer.
The printer gradually deposits fine layers of material – such as plastic, carbon or metal – and builds a physical object.
The product can be as hard or as flexible as you programme the printer to make it, and even include moving parts rather than being a solid block.
A newly-printed object. AFP
Experts say that, in theory, just about any industrial product can be produced through 3D-printing, but it may be best suited for producing small numbers of very specialised products – like customised screws for broken bones which match a patient's specific characteristics.
Other products may not be so socially useful, however. On Monday, a 25-year-old Texas student posted computer files on the internet to create a handgun almost entirely from parts made with a 3D printer.
According to Forbes magazine, the handgun, named the Liberator by its inventor Cody Wilson, was successfully test-fired last week – once.
It blew up when Wilson attempted a second test using a rifle cartridge.
"There's a lot of work to be done," Wilson said afterwards.
Adapted from two AFP stories.
recognise – to know who a person is or what something is จำได้ รู้จัก
enthusiast – a person who is very interested in something and spends a lot of time doing it คนที่กระตือรือร้น
limited – not much or enough; not very great in amount or extent จำกัด
industrial revolution – a major change in how industrial products are designed, produced and distributed, affecting large numbers of industries การปฏิวัติอุตสาหกรรม
simple – easy to understand; not complicated ง่าย,ไม่ยุ่งยาก, ไม่ซับซ้อน
digital – using a system of receiving and sending information as a series of the numbers one and zero, showing that an electronic signal is there or is not there ซึ่งรับส่งข้อมูลด้วยการใช้ตัวเลข
from scratch – from the beginning; without any previous preparation or knowledge
two-dimensional – flat; having no depth; appearing to have only two dimensions สองมิติ
slice – a thin flat piece of something that has been cut off a larger piece แผ่นตัดบางๆ
gradually – slowly and in small stages or amounts อย่างทีละน้อย
layer – a thin sheet of a substance; a level of material, such as a type of rock or gas, which is different from the material above or below it ชั้น
deposit – to leave a layer/layers of something on the surface of something, especially gradually and over a period of time ทับถม, กอง
fine – made up of very small pieces ละเอียด
physical object – a thing that can be seen and touched, but is not alive วัตถุ, สิ่งของ
flexible – able to bend easily without breaking ที่ดัดงอได้โดยไม่แตกหัก
solid – having no holes or spaces inside; not hollow; hard or firm; not in the form of a liquid or gas แข็ง, ของแข็ง
block – a solid piece of stone, wood, ice etc with straight sides ท่อนหิน, ท่อนไม้, ก้อนใหญ่, ชิ้นใหญ่
in theory – supposed to be true but which in fact may in fact be wrong ในภาคทฤษฎี
suited – right or appropriate for somebody/something เหมาะสม
specialised – intended for a limited number of users with specific needs; having very specific uses
customise – to make or change something to suit the needs of the owner ทำตามความต้องการของเจ้าของหรือผู้ซื้อ
screw – a thin pointed piece of metal like a nail with a raised spiral (circular) line (called a thread) ตะปูควง
patient – peaceful and quiet; without anxiety อดทน, อดกลั้น
specific – detailed and exact โดยเฉพาะ, เฉพาะเจาะจง
match – to be the same as or very similar to something else เท่าเทียมกันกับ, เท่ากันกับ
characteristic – a feature or quality that something/somebody has ลักษณะเฉพาะ
liberator – someone/something that gives people freedom or that frees people from restrictions or limitations ผู้กู้อิสรภาพ, สิ่งกู้อิสรภาพ
inventor – someone who has designed or created something such as a machine or process that did not exist before นักประดิษฐ์
blow up – to be destroyed by an explosion; to destroy something by an explosion ระเบิดทำลาย
rifle – a large gun with a long barrel that you hold against your shoulder to fire ปืนยาว, ปืนไรเฟิล
cartridge – a small metal tube containing a bullet and an explosive substance that is fired from a gun ปลอกกระสุนปืน