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Your paperless office may soon be printing plastic

Only time will tell if 3-D printing has real estate applications

It seems like 2013 is gearing up to be the year of 3-D printing among the tech set. Let's spend a few minutes looking at this technology -- also known as "additive manufacturing" -- and what sort of impact it might have. 3-D printing technology enables you to make a physical object out of plastic from a computer file. It is to industrial design what the ink jet printer is to graphic design. So, in the same way that you might use an ink jet printer to print off a couple of brochures or sell sheets or other business collateral, you might use a 3-D printer to "print" off an object -- a keychain fob, an action figure, a spare plastic part for something, and so on. First off, let's be very clear and honest: 3-D printing is extremely cool, but it's also a long way from mainstream. There are significant constraints on what this technology can do today. The printers build up objects a layer at a time, which are limited in size and also in complexity or "resolution.&...