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CNET News Video: New vending machine brings 3D printing to the masses

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CNET News Video: New vending machine brings 3D printing to the masses

3:09 /

Vending machines offer a variety of choices. Now there's a vending machine that lets you create what you want. The Dreambox is a first-of-its-kind 3D printing vending machine. As CNET's Sumi Das shows us, its creators hope to make 3D printing available to everyone.

-If you need a snack, this isn't the vending machine for you. But if you want to create a 3D model, step right up. Dreambox is the first ever 3D printing vending machine. Located on the UC Berkeley campus, it was built by a trio of recent grads who were frustrated by the lack of access to the technology. -It's existed in research labs and it's existed in big corporations to do rapid prototyping. And that's-- as it remains today. So, it's sitting on a couple labs on campus. And to get access, you need to be a Ph. D. student, you need to be a researcher, you need to be a grad student. -The creators hoped to democratize 3D printing and ultimately have these machines in public places like shopping malls or copy centers. This prototype costs just under $10,000 and took about 5 weeks to build. -We have the heart of the machine which is the 3D printer. And then, we also have an arm, a robotic arm to remove the print from the platform. We have a distributor mechanism that will choose one of the four drawers to drop in to. -To get started, you'll need to register. Then, upload a design of your own or choose an object from the Dreambox store. You can pay using PayPal. The cost? Usually under $15. -Less than 24 hours later, you'll receive an e-mail with an unlock code. Enter that on the Dreambox, and it will unlock your drawer so you can pick up your model. -Roughly half the models printed are for personal projects. But figurines from video games and shows like Game of Thrones are popular, too. What you can't print is a gun. In recent weeks, pro-gun groups have produced firearms using 3D printers and successfully fired them. One was created relatively cheaply using a desktop 3D printer that sells for $1,700 and about $25 in raw materials. The Dreambox creators told us their policy strictly prohibits users from printing firearms. What's more? The Dreambox printer couldn't handle the intricate parts of the gun. Dreambox's print queue is busy, thanks to a steady stream of orders which is why customers must wait a day to collect their models even though most designs can be printed in under an hour. The tricky part now is minimizing maintenance. -We're remotely monitoring machine using a couple of different tools. We can essentially do remote desktop in to the machine. It's actually in the vending machine, the computer in there. We also have multiple cameras to keep track of quality as well as how the printer is running. -Currently, the Dreambox can't print anything larger than a loaf of bread. And all models are created from a single material-- plastic. But 3D printing is evolving rapidly and could do much more in the near future. -Where we're going is printing metals, so printing custom jewelry or printing essentially custom pieces that are actually used in machines. You could feasibly print a replacement part for your dishwasher, for your washing machine. -Imagine. Instant appliance repairs or phone cases that perfectly match your party attire. All on demand. Just hit Control P. In Berkeley, California, I'm Sumi Das, CNET.com for CBS News.

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