George Jetson had one. So did Captain Picard. Now you too can tell a machine what you want and watch as it appears before your eyes. The technology goes by many names—3-D printer; rapid prototyper; fabber—but the concept is the same: Feed a device with blueprints for a solid object of your choosing, then let the machine build it for you from plastic or other simple materials. Industrial designers have had access for years to fabbers that use powerful lasers to fuse plastic powder—great for mocking up jet turbines or architectural plans—but with a price tag of tens of thousands of dollars, 3-D printing has been out of reach for most of us. Now all that has started to change, as do-it-yourself types and imaginative engineers have found ways to bring the technology to the people. Here are five ways that you can harness the power of fabbing.

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