Originally posted by googlefudge
Printing something with the strength, certainly the strength to weight ratio of or better than steel is not hard. Making something with the hardness of steel may well be trickier.
However the complexity/scanning issue is easy... just design the object directly in a CAD program and print the virtual object.
Well, that may be one answer, or the only answer, not sure. One thing for sure, that would not be scanning. I wonder if computer chips could be made this way? The big guys are getting down to 24 nanometer sized features now, 240 angstroms, and you are now starting to count atoms, I think a silicon crystal has its atoms about 3 angstroms apart, so we are talking about less than 100 atoms to make a transistor or at least one layer. Or about 1 million atoms to make a device 24X24X24 nanometers. That is getting down there in size!
I think it will be a long time till we get 3D printing down to that size.
That would be a real challenge due to dopant requirements, uniformity issues, lattice mismatch (deliberate in some devices) and so forth. I think electronics is way too subtle for this kind of technology, at least in this half of the 21st century.