Sep 24, 2018 / Shanghai, China / When Star Trek first hit the TV screens back in the late 60s, the act of Kirk walking up to a slot in the wall, asking for a chicken sandwich and coffee, and getting back a tray of Tribbles, was simply a figment of Gene Roddenberry’s vivid imagination. Later on, during Star Trek, the Next Generation, the idea of a replicator, a device which can take atomic particles and reassemble them into completely different forms crystallized. Even during the 80s, when the Next Generation ran on TV, no one could have predicted that merely 40 years later, an actual “home version” of a real replicator, would be available for purchase by anyone.
While this device cannot actually create edible food (despite the efforts since the “test tube burger” unveiled over 5 years ago – its programming has not advanced to that point yet), the hardware to produce nearly anything is already available. Rod Roddenberry, the son of the “Great Bird Of The Galaxy” was on hand yesterday at MakeAnything.com LLC headquarters to watch the first “replicator” – known as M5™ (in homage to the Star Trek series, it was named after a supercomputer featured in the episode “The Ultimate Computer”)
Using nanotechnology, the replicator, true to its original design, manipulates matter on a atomic level in order to “create” things. Mark De Jung, President of MakeAnything.com LLC explains “You insert a block of nanomatter, a specially created generic block of matter which we have created with can be thought of as “pure” matter, a generic template which can be manipulated into any form. You then launch the included MakeAnythingDesigner™ software on your home computer or tablet. You use the software to create what you need it to, either from downloadable templates which you can freely modify, or create your own.
“For example, I was missing a Robertson screw from an antique dining room table I purchased in Canada. You can’t find these screws at your local Home Depot. I simply call up the Robertson screw template, tell it how many to make and voila, a few minutes later it’s done” Mark demonstrates by actually creating the screw. The process takes time, but the results are perfect. This reporter cannot tell the created one from the real one, except for the fact that it’s newer.
“Additionally, with the optional MakeAnything 3D scanner, you can duplicate almost anything. Let’s say you broke a plate of your Grandmothers china set, which can never be replaced.” Mark demonstrates by placing a plate into a scanner. A few hours later, the plate is replicated in perfect detail, even down to the subtle scratches on its surfaces “I can edit those out next time” he says.
When asked what this technology would do to the whole manufacturing industry he shrugs “Change it a lot, I should think” he says with a smile.
About 6 years ago, I wrote a set of predictive stories about what life would be like 10 years out. Really interesting to go back to that time and see how much of that is on the way to actually happening: some of it – like 3d printers, are definitely moving along at a rapid clip. Others, not so much. I thought that you might find some of these interesting, so I’ll send them out in addition to my regular scheduled programming. Hope you enjoyed, and that it spurs some new thinking!
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