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The next wave in computer-aided creativity is here

Seattle

THE desk space next to personal computers first welcomed paper printers and later made room for 3-D printers that could conjure any shape from spools of plastic.

Now new devices, including laser cutters and computer-controlled milling machines, are coming out of industrial workshops and planting themselves on desktops. The wave of new machines is bringing a new level of precision to people who make physical objects - from leather wallets to lamps to circuit boards - as a career or hobby.

It is part of a familiar theme in tech. Computers help transform expensive, complicated machines used by the few and make them more accessible to the many. The creative types - designers, craftsmen, tinkerers...

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