Will Dean's Ideas Factory: A trade show provides proof of 3D printing's pull


The rise of 3D printing has been one of the most prominent technology stories of the last three years.

The process – in which printers can use plastics and other materials to reproduces anything from bike chains to red blood cells and guns – could, in theory at least, transform industries as diverse as civil engineering, medical supplies, architecture, and doll-making.

As public awareness of the technology has grown, so has demand to see 3D print in action and for companies and consumers to consider what they can actually do with the stuff. In other words, how many years away am I from being able to "print" off a spare part for my fridge door?

Part of the wonder of 3D print is actually seeing products come to life through the click of a button. Of course, you can do this for free on YouTube, but if you fancy seeing a prosthetic leg being created in real-time, you could do worse than coughing up £20 for a ticket to the UK's first 3D print trade show this month.

Exhibitors at the 3D Printshow include Makerbot, the New York company which has become the most prominent earlier supplier of 3D printers to curious consumers (at around £1,600 a go) as well as the likes of Sculpteo, a French company who take order for customised 3D print products (ie, jewellery). There's also a fashion show featuring custom couture.

You can probably even print out your own credit card to pay for your own machine.

3D Printshow takes place at The Brewery, London EC1 from 19-21 October. 3dprintshow.com

Neil Young attacks the damage done by needly MP3s

If you haven't been into HMV for a while you'll be surprised to see that they look less like record shops and more like Comet, with headphones to the fore. But the irony in this is that while we're spending £300 on a pair of Beats by Dre, we're listening to low-definition streams or MP3 files whose sound quality is greatly reduced from their original form. But, on the whole, us modern music consumers are happy with our lot. One man who's spent years complaining about the sound quality of the MP3 is Neil Young, who is hoping to keep the free world rocking with a new player called Pono, which will play files with a much, much higher sound quality than an MP3 – 24-bits to the MP3's 256kbps. Considering the success of high-end headphones, it could be a hit.

Whether people will want to repurchase their files in this new format is another question. But, with CDs already compressed versions of studio masters and MP3s even further compressed, we're a long way away from hearing recorded music in its intended form. Unless artists begin to calibrate their sound for best performance on a iPhone speaker on the back of the W7 bus.