The next big thing in 3D printing: Liquid metal

With new technology, liquid metal with a solid skin becomes the building block for 3D-printed items

Among emerging technologies, 3D printing is very en vogue, but researchers at North Carolina State have seen the future, and it looks like an even cooler -- not to mention real -- James Cameron special effect: liquid metal.

No, you can't print up your own T-1000 (yet), but the technology still is quite impressive. As the above video shows, the metal is pushed out of a syringe needle and forms a ball with a solid skin upon extrusion. Those balls can then be stacked or otherwise arranged -- think of them as building blocks for 3D printing. Even more exciting are the possibilities raised by the fact that the metal can also be made into a string, which can then be used to complete an electrical circuit. Technologists and inventors everywhere are no doubt feverishly imagining all sorts of applications for for that capability as we speak.

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