Who said that printers are boring? Just a few years ago, inkjet printer makers struggled to build machines that could create great photos. Today's multifunctions wrap photo printing and retouching, desktop publishing, photocopying, scanning, and faxing into one compact package.
Taking this all-in-one concept further, could printers of the not-so-distant future behave like mini-mills that churn out 3D objects, mystery meat, or body parts for transplants? The household "matter compilers" in Neal Stephenson's 1995 nanotech novel The Diamond Age could fabricate a meal, a mattress, or a sword at a button's punch. Once again, real life is resembling science fiction. Inkjet printing techniques are forming the core of machines that concoct all manner of matter. Recent developments: