SLIDESHOW

Printers and Scanners of Tomorrow (and Beyond)

Four ultra-futuristic printers and scanners hint of the possibilities of future tech.

Affordable 3D Printers

3D printers are nothing new; in fact they've been around for some time. We've had a look at some of the cool things you can do with these types of printers, including creating models, tools and all sorts of wizardry. Unfortunately, the 3D printers of today cost in excess of $100,000 and are largely reserved for large architecture and development firms.

Thankfully, it won't stay that way forever. HP recently announced its interest in 3D printing, with products potentially available for just $15,000. 3D printers might not make it to your desk this year, but at this rate, the possibility of owning a 3D printer for personal or business use is becoming more likely.

Related stories:

The Next 25 Years in Tech

Edison's Kindle and Other Groundbreaking Gadgets

Shopping for a Photo Printer

3D Critters of the Future

The products of 3D printers, naturally, aren't limited to flat images. Here are some of the cool things 3D printers let you make.

Related stories:

The Next 25 Years in Tech

Edison's Kindle and Other Groundbreaking Gadgets

Shopping for a Photo Printer

Biological Printers

We are still a little way off re-growing entire limbs, but we are certainly making strides towards it. Invetech and Organovo have created the first 3D bioprinter, which is capable of printing entire cells. According to Organovo CEO Keith Murphy, the potential uses are wide-ranging - from supporting existing kidney cells to forming the foundations of a tooth.

With a printer capable of producing "tissue on demand," researchers and surgeons will apparently be able to easily repair organs without waiting for a lab to catch up; just press the button and go. It's all a bit freaky, but if these end up in every hospital they could literally be a life saver.

Related stories:

The Next 25 Years in Tech

Edison's Kindle and Other Groundbreaking Gadgets

Shopping for a Photo Printer

Food Printers

To us, this seems even more unlikely than biological printers. Then again, science fiction movies have told us for years that one day we'll have replicators that can reproduce anything on command. This concept from MIT doesn't quite reach those heights, but it sure does get close. By mixing liquid ingredients to suit the user's preferences and then either heating or cooling it, the "Cornucopia" can recreate a meal with any number of textures and tastes.

We're not sure of the final taste, but somehow we don't think these food printers will be making it into five-star restaurants anytime soon.

Related stories:

The Next 25 Years in Tech

Edison's Kindle and Other Groundbreaking Gadgets

Shopping for a Photo Printer

Food Printer Products

This opens all kinds of possibilities . . . liquid lasagna, anyone?

Related stories:

The Next 25 Years in Tech

Edison's Kindle and Other Groundbreaking Gadgets

Shopping for a Photo Printer

3D Scanning

We've seen plenty of devices that help you get designs out of a computer, but how about something to get 3D objects back in? Step in Ortery's Photosimile 5000, allegedly the world's first 3D scanner for the office. The Photosimile 5000 is essentially a big box that allows you to attach compatible Canon SLR cameras, and automatically takes a succession of photos. The product lies on a rotating turntable, giving you a full 360 degree view of the product.

The scanner is undoubtedly useful for product manufacturers everywhere (and it could even threaten the jobs of in-house product photographers). It even automatically creates a 3D animation of the product, though this has to be viewed using Ortery's proprietary software.

Related stories:

The Next 25 Years in Tech

Edison's Kindle and Other Groundbreaking Gadgets

Shopping for a Photo Printer

Stay up to date with the latest news, reviews and features. Sign up to PC World's newsletters

Follow PC World Australia on Twitter: @PCWorldAu