Photo Credit: Formlabs

Smart people have struck again. This time, they’ve brought us a device that can “print” out other devices, and they’re calling it a 3D printer. No, it’s not brand-spanking-new; in fact, the technology has been around since 1982.

Now, the trend is going mainstream, which means it’s finally our turn to get to play with the grown-up toys.

What do us non-geniuses need to know about this innovative procedure? Well, basically, we can print out stuff. Actual, tangible, physical things. A hammer? Done. A bicycle? Easy. An exact replica of Darth Vader’s Death Star? You got it. Just scan the item you’d like to replicate and let the printer do the rest.

A computer image is created of the scanned item and sent to a “printer” that uses a specially engineered composite material combined with a binding agent to accurately craft your item to near-exact specifications. Once complete, you’ll have a physical, picture-perfect replica of your original item. The possibilities are endless.

This awesomely technological tool is finally at the public’s fingertips. 3D printers are now affordable enough (min. $1400) to become a household item. Print shops like Kinko’s and FedEx Office are also getting in on the action by beginning to provide customers with access to 3D printers.

For those of use with wild imaginations, it is our turn to be the creators; just show us how to turn this thing on.