Researchers at MIT have developed a handheld milling machine that turns anyone into a skilled sculptor. Like with a 3D printer, users start with a 3D model on a computer, but instead of a machine laying down layers of plastic, the handheld mill removes only what’s needed from a solid block of material to eventually reveal a fully formed 3D object. This could basically turn anyone into a Michelangelo when we’re all able to buy one.
Using motion sensors and a highly-accurate magnetic tracker, the computer is able to tell exactly where the tip of the cutting tool is at all times, automatically stopping the spinning bit when it hits material that’s not supposed to be removed. So it’s almost impossible to make a wrong cut or a mistake.
Furthermore, multiple people can all be working on a sculpture based on the same 3D model, but the results will all look slightly different, since it’s all but impossible for two people to make the exact same movements with the tool. So the results still have a distinct handmade originality to them. Unlike with a 3D printer, where every object produced is almost identical.