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3-D printers bring innovative ideas to life

Process gets prototypes to engineers faster

9:54 PM, Mar. 22, 2013
Bilal Ghalib works on 3-D printer at Autodesk's offices in San Francisco.
Bilal Ghalib works on 3-D printer at Autodesk's offices in San Francisco.
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When Ford Motor shows off the latest version of its hybrid car at an Atlanta auto show this month, its drive train and other key parts will be products of a new development process that's taken hold across corporate America and the world.

Rather than using custom machine tools to build early prototypes of new parts, Ford is now using 3-D printing technology to design and test its engineers' latest ideas. The new method allows product developers to have a prototype in their hands in as little as a week after they create a new design - compared with a previous wait time of three to four months.

"We're ...

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports