A thorough introduction to the ever evolving world of 3-D printing.
Though it is difficult not to be shocked and awed by the capabilities of today’s 3-D printers, Koch doesn’t affect a gaga tone. She keeps a steady pace and lets the subject wow for itself. Readers learn that 3-D printing, though still in its infancy, holds the promise to make medical, fashion, industrial, what-have-you innovations that will change our world in fundamental ways. Koch starts the whole business off by comparing her subject to a mud dauber wasp that uses a variety of materials instead of wood pulp and saliva—and those materials can now be combined to make a range of items from human tissue to flavored sweets, from teeth to 3-D printers that make other 3-D printers. A good selection of engineers and inventors, both men and women, are given pleasingly anecdotal profiles, and Koch lays down some fundamentals that may not occur to readers, such as the fact that each printer is designed to do one job and that job only. The book’s layout can get somewhat hectic, with boxes, separate spreads, or abrupt color shifts signaling particular information for emphasis. Occasionally Koch will leave readers stranded—just how, for instance, do archaeologists study digs by using 3-D printers “in a way that will not damage or destroy [artifacts and sites]”? Otherwise, the writing is smart and engaging.
A crack primer to a strange new world. (Nonfiction. 12-18)