How to deck the halls, 3D printer style

Additive manufacturing — also known as 3D printing — has a long way to go before we all have 3D printers in our homes. But it’s already been able to do some pretty amazing things: “print” a playable flute, an ultra-efficient car, even a glass bowl from solar-melted sand.

And now GE’s gone ahead and printed a three-dimensional ornament for its Christmas tree. Inspired by the design of a GE jet engine, the ornament isn’t likely to pose a threat to the demand for more traditional decor like Santas and snowflakes. And, considering the printing process takes 10 hours or so, we’re probably not going to be using this technique anytime soon to replace that favorite glass ball that slips out of our hands and splinters on the floor while trimming the tree.

Still, it is a pretty cool demonstration of what’s becoming possible in 3D printing. What’s next? Printed Christmas trees?


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