Captain Kirk’s replicator is here – almost

A commenter yesterday reminded me of the Star Trek ‘replicator’, that wondrous device in the wall that would, upon a voice command, deliver anything from new shoes to a cup of hot tea with lemon, easily and instantly manufactured and delivered from stored atomic information or something.

Now comes the Thing-O-Matic. It’s real alright. I saw it on Colbert last night. All the details are here:

. . .  you can simply manufacture your very own dishwasher knob. And bath plugs, drink bottles, spectacle frames, shin pads, helmets and even action figures.

It’s all thanks to the Thing-O-Matic, a ‘factory in a box’ that claims to create any three-dimensional object out of plastic in a matter of minutes.

It creates 3-D scans of actual objects into what they’re calling the ‘printer’ and the output is itself three-dimensional and made of a hard plastic. It’s real and really wonderfully weird.

19 responses to “Captain Kirk’s replicator is here – almost

  1. Oh I just knew it! Hurrah….my cooking days are over! But food made of plastic…I’m not sure about the nutritional value…but heck, I’m game.


  2. And at $1.200 only!!
    Not sure what the plastic is though.

    I’d like a model of congress and a custom-designed “whatever works” mug by moe!

    And think of the christmas presents!!


  3. The Economist had a huge article about 3D printing a few months back.

    This is actually going to be a huge revolution in mass production and customization. Today, most things are made via “subtractive” manufacturing in which materials are wasted on the production line. 3D printing at home allows the increase of “additive” manufacturing in which people download a design and then “print” their merchandise at home.

    This revolution will not only save materials, but people also won’t waste so much fuel and energy transporting products overseas.

    This is the future…


    • I think you’re right Sean. It sure excited me. Probaly won’t be this sweet geek who makes the big money, but what the hey – looks like he’s having fun.


    • I first read about this in reference to space travel. If you’re in a spacecraft billions of miles from home and a part breaks, you can be in serious trouble. So instead of keeping an inventory of parts for everything that could possibly break down, you just need a computer that stores a digital template of every physical object on the ship, a 3D printer, and a supply of basic raw material–sheet metal or plastic. When something breaks, you just print a new copy.


  4. Years ago there was talk of something like this that would generate custom clothing for you. You’d stand on a platform and a holographic scanner would take your measurements from head to toe. Then a computer would cut and sew the clothes, and presto, a perfectly fitted suit (or whatever) would pop out. Since I have to get just about everything altered that I buy off the rack, I’ve been waiting for the thing forever. Unfortunately it never “materialized”.


  5. Still waiting for my potroast, potatoes & gravy.


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  7. Maybe we need to use one to ask for decent Presidential candidates???


  8. With a good holodeck, it wouldn’t matter who was President.


  9. The steaks in the matrix tasted good, and everyone looked so good! What’s wrong with the matrix?


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