3-D Printers Now on Sale

June 14, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. brick and mortar [BRIK-uh n-MAWR-ter] (adj.) – referring to businesses that are located in the building; traditional stores
Example: I prefer shopping in brick and mortar stores rather than in online shops.

2. specification [spes-uh-fi-KEY-shuh n] (n.) – a detailed description of an object, such as its measurements, design, and materials used
Example The manufacturer strictly followed the customer‘s specifications in making the device.

3. crop up [krop uhp] (idiom) – to suddenly appear or to happen unexpectedly
Example: App developers have been cropping up in recent years.

4. intricate [IN-tri-kit] (adj.) – very detailed and complicated
Example Computers nowadays can create and reproduce intricate and complex patterns.

5. crack down [krak doun] (idiom) – to take strong action to prevent an event from happening
Example: The government cracked down on piracy by imposing tougher rules and sanctions.


Read the text below.
Staples, an office supply chain store, is now selling 3-D printers called the Cube for $1,300 on its official website. The Cube will also be available in brick-and-mortar stores starting June.

The Cube, made by 3D Systems, creates three-dimensional objects based on the specifications of a digital design file. The printer constructs the objects one plastic layer at a time. It can print objects that are 5.5 inches in length, width, and height and in 16 different colors.

The 3D Systems says that it aims to make 3-D printers, which were previously used only in industrial manufacturing, available to everyone.

Other companies have followed suit, contributing to the rising popularity of in-home printers. A New-York based company, Makerbot, introduced its $2,800-printer earlier this year. Since then, similar startup companies have been cropping up on the Kickstarter website.

The 3-D printer can create anything as long as a design template is available. Products of 3-D printers include coffee cup holders and action figures.

Some industries, however, are exploring the printer's potential beyond plastic toys and novelty items. For example, chefs are using the printer with edible ink to create intricate designs on their food. Also, doctors are experimenting with the printer's capability to make artificial organs and prosthetic legs. 

Despite being useful, the printer still faces some controversies. Templates for printable gun parts had been circulating on the Internet. But due to the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last December, 3-D printer companies cracked down on these templates.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Will you be interested in buying a 3-D printer? Why or why not?
·         Aside from those mentioned in the article, how else do you think 3-D printers can be used?

Discussion B

·         Do you think technology brings as much harm as good? Why do you say so?
·         How can we ensure that technology is used responsibly?


June 14, 2013