Rapid prototyping is a relatively new engineering process where some very interesting work is going on. The fab labs we spoke of earlier do rapid prototyping using printers that build up 3 dimensional objects, one thin layer at a time. Some of the objects they build can’t really be made any other way but one of the things you couldn’t do with the process was build anything that had mechanical function, pieces had to be assembled first.
Well, one more hurdle has fallen and now they do that, too. The picture here is of a working gun, not sure what exactly it does, whether it’s just a trigger clicking function or it works in some other way but whichever the case, it supposedly works right out of the printer. Looking closely, it looks like there’s a functional spring down inside the clip. Hmm… Think of the implications of being able to make functional objects this way. Think of future manufacturing. It’s hard to visualize how this can even be done but very ingenious design certainly plays a part. Very cool.