Carbon fibre? Isn't that just the stuff used for hideous bodykits on souped-up hot hatches?
Philistine. It's both lightweight and rigid, with a whole host of applications. Everything from boat hulls to Formula 1 cars to, yes, hideous bodykits for hot hatches.
And now I can 3D print the stuff?
Yup – the Mark One from Mark Forged is the world's first 3D printer that'll print in carbon fibre. It prints in continuous strands, using a unique print head to print parts that are 20 times stiffer and 5 times stronger than the ABS plastic used in most 3D printers.
Is that all it does?
The Mark One isn't a one-trick pony; it can also print in fibreglass, nylon and the standard PLA plastic used by most 3D printers.
What can I print on it?
Whatever your heart desires. As long as it's no bigger than 12in x 6.25in x 6.25in. So, no, you can't print a hideous bodykit for your hot hatch. Unless it's a Hot Wheels hot hatch.
So it's going to be hugely expensive and aimed at 3D print shops, right?
Nothing of the sort. The Mark One will cost US$5000 when it goes on sale later in the year; you can pre-order it from February.
That's pricey, yes, but not outside the budget of the home enthusiast – and its aluminium unibody construction won't look out of place on the desk next to your iMac. It'll play nice with Mac OS 10.7 Lion +, Win XP+ and Linux (albeit with limited support for the latter), and features Wi-Fi, USB and SD card connectivity.