Like many technologically savvy startups, Dirk Vander Kooij's furniture-making company in the Netherlands needs only a skeleton crew â¿¿ four people. The hard work at the Eindhoven-based company is carried out by an old industrial robot that Vander Kooij fashioned into a 3D printer. Using plastic recycled from old refrigerators, the machine "prints" furniture â¿¿ ranging in price from a $300 chair to a $3,000 lamp â¿¿ the way an ordinary printer uses ink to print documents. Many analysts expect 3D printing to revolutionize manufacturing, allowing small firms like Vander Kooij's to make niche products without hiring many people.â¿¿Google's driverless car and the Pentagon's drone aircraft are raising the specter of highways and skies filled with cars and planes that can get around by themselves.
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