Joe's Big Idea is the occasional series from our colleague Joe Palca looking at where scientists get their ideas and how they act on them. One idea that has revolutionized manufacturing is the 3-D printer. Last year, engineers used a printer to build nearly an entire car from scratch in less than a week. The project was a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Energy and a start-up car company. The printers were developed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, where Joe went for a visit.
JOE PALCA, BYLINE: The best way to see the future is to peek over the balcony above the entrance of a manufacturing floor.