For instance, by using different metals or a combination of metals and polymers, a 3D printer could make body armor for soldiers or police officers that is stronger, yet lighter, than anything that could be produced by layering materials on top of each other in traditional manufacturing today.
Using different metals and polymers, also would make it possible for a company to print the custom-fit foam and padding for the inside of a football helmet that would be laced with sensors. With the sensors built inside the foam, the number, and severity, of hits a player takes on the head can be tracked, helping to keep athletes from suffering brain injuries.
That kind of advance in manufacturing, said Basiliere, would be helpful to a lot of companies.
"Well, you can get a printer that can print with three different plastics," he added. "They're the same material but different colors... If someone was to come out with the ability to print with different materials, one could be a base to carry another material that could carry an electric charge. Then you could reduce a two-step operation to one step. That could increase quality and reduce price."
This article, Researchers aim to revolutionize 3D printing, global manufacturing, was originally published at Computerworld.com.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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