Snopes weighs in on ‘unbelieveable’ 3D printing video

Rumor-busting website confirms 3D printing exists. Z Corp reaps a PR bonanza with the help of National Geographic Channel.

A video is making the rounds which some people find hard to believe. It shows the 3D printing of a crescent wrench, which is then used to tighten a nut. Enough people found the video so unbelievable that it made its way to, the famed website that specializes in separating truth from lie on the Internet.

The Snopes verdict? The video is real, but the boring stuff in the middle was edited out.

David Kaplan of the National Geographic Channel show Known Universse examines a wrench he just pulled from a Z Corp 3D printer. (Source: Nat Geo)

The video clip is from an episode of Known Universe on the National Geographic Channel. The 3D printer is from Z Corp. In the episode, host David Kaplan visits Z Corp headquarters in Burlington, Massachusetts and learns about 3D printing, making references to the idea of someday printing tools on demand in outer space. He asks Joe Titlow, Z Corp’s VP of product management, if he can replicate a crescent wrench. Titlow scans the wrench, edits the resulting 3D data a bit, and prints a new one. Everyone goes “gee wizz,” makes reference to Star Trek replicators, and the show moves on.

What we think

A couple of years ago I came home from a trade show with a few 3D printed objects, including a simple bearing mechanism. I gave one to my brother-in-law, a machinist. He showed it around at work. Later he told me, everyone there thought he was lying when he said it was printed, not machined or cast.

The well-known quote from science fiction author William Gibson (Twitter: @GreatDismal) is still way too accurate: “The future is already here. It’s just not very evenly distributed yet.” Z Corp wins a PR bonanza for being in a viral video helping convince the world 3D printing exists, and for helping to drag a few more people into the future some of us are already living.