3D Printing Now—and Then

I was reading recently about the delivery of the first 3D printer in space to the International Space Station, by the SpaceX Dragon cargo spaceship. You can read all about it here, and it’s pretty cool.

Not long after, I was reading a piece of fiction I’ve had around for a while that included this paragraph:

Igor’s countrymen, though lacking many earth techniques, were far ahead of earth in manufacturing skill. They used a single general type of machine to manufacture almost anything. They fed into it a plan which Igor called for want of a better term the blueprints—it was in fact, a careful scale model of the device to be manufactured; the machine retooled itself and produced the artifact. One of them was, at that moment, moulding the bodies of fighting planes out of plastic, all in one piece and in one operation.

That’s from Robert Heinlein’s “Elsewhen,” first published in 1941. It’s included in the collection Assignment in Eternity.


That man had some vision. 

0 Responses

  1. jfowen.com
    | Reply

    That he did. The "Drafting Dan" he described in "The Door into Summer" was a mechanical version of the CAD system I use every day to create technical drawings. Of course when he introduced the world to Drafting Dan, I was only about a year old.

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