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by David Fuchs

Recently a 3D printer called a “chemputer” was announced. The headline read: “Researchers developing ‘chemputer’ that prints drugs.” This device, if modified, has very serious potential for disruptive change.

With one of these modified chemputers, you have the ability to create any chemical compound you wish in less than a day. With several hundred of them, you have the ability to order a custom chemical, queue it for manufacture and later use. This is where things get interesting and science advances very quickly.

Imagine a researcher working on polymer (plastic) solar cells and having access to this technology. Before he had access to this technology, he was testing several samples a week. Now, his lab is upgraded to include a rack mount with one thousand chemputers, and a reel-to-reel unit for printing and testing polymer solar cells, after which the number of samples he can test skyrockets.

In a day, he can test several thousand possible cell designs. In a month, tens of thousands. And in a year, several hundred thousand. With evolutionary software helping with the design process, it would not be long before solar cells became extremely cheap and extremely efficient. The current yearly increases in efficiency and reduction in cost would become something that could happen weekly.

Now, lets go to the lab next door where the researcher is designing new batteries for energy storage…. 🙂

David Fuchs is a geek and builder of things. He’s a classically trained engineer and programmer involved in open source, software, and hardware. He’s interested in 3D printing and nanotechnology, predicting the future of technology, and low-cost power production in 3rd world nations using material at hand.

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