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3D Printer Head-to-Head: Reviewing Two 3D Printers Under $300

Will the New Matter Mod-t or the daVinci miniMaker get 3D printing into the hands of kids?

7 min read
Two rectangular tabletop machines. The one on the left is bright yellow, red, green, and blue. The one on the right is mostly black and white.
Photos, left: XYZ Printing; right: New Matter

Three-dimensional printers, long a tool for makers, are aiming for the home and classroom market. Two of the early entrants, XYZ Printing and New Matter, were brave enough to allow me to borrow their kid-friendly models for several months to check them out: For XYZ, that’s the daVinci miniMaker; for New Matter, it’s the Mod-t. These under-$300 gadgets are said to be aimed at tweens and up (though the primary colors of the miniMaker seemed designed to appeal to far younger children). “Up” includes non-tech-savvy teachers and other adults interested in 3D printing who aren’t hard-core makers.

Both of these school/home printers use only nontoxic PLA filament, a biodegradable polyester made out of renewable resources, typically cornstarch. Those already involved in 3D printing likely see this as a limitation; for the home market, though, it’s a good thing. It means you don’t have to worry about your kids using materials that need serious ventilation for safety.

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Deep Learning Could Bring the Concert Experience Home

The century-old quest for truly realistic sound production is finally paying off

12 min read
Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford

Now that recorded sound has become ubiquitous, we hardly think about it. From our smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, radios, disc players, and car sound systems, it’s an enduring and enjoyable presence in our lives. In 2017, a survey by the polling firm Nielsen suggested that some 90 percent of the U.S. population listens to music regularly and that, on average, they do so 32 hours per week.

Behind this free-flowing pleasure are enormous industries applying technology to the long-standing goal of reproducing sound with the greatest possible realism. From Edison’s phonograph and the horn speakers of the 1880s, successive generations of engineers in pursuit of this ideal invented and exploited countless technologies: triode vacuum tubes, dynamic loudspeakers, magnetic phonograph cartridges, solid-state amplifier circuits in scores of different topologies, electrostatic speakers, optical discs, stereo, and surround sound. And over the past five decades, digital technologies, like audio compression and streaming, have transformed the music industry.

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