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Beyond 3-D Printing

By Sally Wu

Ben Peters is a lifelong tinkerer, builder, and engineer. In his work as a graduate student at the MIT Media Lab, Ben explores the potentials of 3D printing, among other projects.

On the TEDxBeaconStreet stage, he shared his innovative work on a digitally-controlled mold which uses an array of moving pins. This new tool allows for the design and printing of any shape along a surface, reducing the conventional limits of manufacturing, and increasing the potential for new products.

In an interview at TEDxBeaconStreet, Ben shared more of his thoughts about his work, background, and ideas about how to bring out new innovations.   He talked about he advances that are being made possible by 3-D printing:

“You have total design freedom. You can create organic looking shapes using algorithms to make geometries that are very hard to manufacture… Many times, people think of making conventional things like nails and bolts, things that are readily available for engineers. Now, people can think about making the whole thing as one piece.

I think the really exciting thing isn’t what exists already. What 3D printers will enable us to do is advance in all these other fields. It’s like giving tools to people who don’t normally have tools.”

 Having a 3D printer that can create any geometry generates ideas for other fields such as synthetic biology. With the technology improving rapidly to become more accurate, faster, and with higher resolution, Ben is excited about the potential for 3D printing to expand into the complex function and structure of cells.

With new tools redefining what is possible and equipping users with more power to explore the unconventional, Ben believes that entirely new approaches to problems will be created.  It’s not about making one tool that can do everything, but creating a collection of tools and an environment that allows you to make everything.”