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The Hershey Company plans to inject some modernity into its 120 year old chocolate making operation by pairing with 3D Systems to explore ways to 3D print chocolate. 3D Systems, which just announced two machines capable of 3D printing sugar and chocolate, said in its press release that it sees the Hershey’s partnership as an opportunity to expose more people to the emerging technology. While neither company said exactly what the deal will entail, involving 3D printing means people will likely be given the option to print custom chocolate shapes.

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Inspired by Planet Labs’ recent success sending 28 shoebox-sized satellites to space? It’s not exactly cheap, but an online shop launched by PocketQube today offers up all the components an individual or business would need to buy, design and launch their own satellite. CubeSat structures start at $499 and can be paired with a year-long partnership with a mentor and help finding a rocket to courier the satellite to space.

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3D System‘s big press conference today starring will.i.am actually turned out to be about will.i.am himself, who will partner with brands and lead educational initiatives to speed the mainstream-ification of 3D printing on behalf of 3D Systems. This isn’t the former Black Eyed Peas frontman’s first tech venture; in 2012, the NASA Curiosity rover played a specially-recorded version of one of his songs from Mars. will.i.am was last seen innovating Intel in 2011, and I gotta feeling this partnership will be just as fruitful. At the very least, it should lead to some awkward 3D Systems/Intel CES chitchat. And to think Alicia Keys was available.

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Personal 3D printing isn’t the only industry that’s getting more crowded. Huge Japanese trading company Mitsubishi will begin selling a professional-grade metal laser sintering 3D printer in North America this month, 3Ders reports. The printer is made by Matsuura and starts at roughly $850,000. Laser sintering, which uses a laser to seal together powdered particles of a material, has yet to be adapted to the desktop, meaning large, professional machines like these are the norm.

In Brief

A new video out of the University of Illinois Aerospace Robotics and Control Laboratory depicts a swarm of drones that can sense their surroundings to respond to commands and avoid obstacles. Watch from the beginning to see a person use their hands to guide the drones, or skip to the 1 minute mark to see the tiny quadcopters avoid a person that walks through their midst.

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Over the past year, San Francisco space startup Planet Labs sent a trickle of shoebox-sized satellites into space. Next month, it will send a deluge when its new fleet of 28 “Doves” launch. It announced today that it will do so with the help of $52 million in Series B funding, led by Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner. Felicis Ventures, Lux Capital, Industry Ventures and Ray Rothrock also joined as new investors. Planet Labs’ satellites take images of the Earth, which can provide data to the agriculture, environmental and other industries. The images are available to anyone for a fee.

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Like other organs, eyes sometimes need to be replaced with a transplant, and that transplant comes from a person who agreed to donate their organs upon their death. In the future, it might be a lot easier to acquire an eye transplant thanks to 3D printing. University of Cambridge researchers published a paper today detailing how they used an ink printer to print multiple types of rat eye cells; the first time anyone has been able to keep eye cells healthy and at the right consistency to flow out of a nozzle. It’s a first step toward being able to 3D print an artificial eye for a human.

In Brief

KeyMe is the modern alternative to getting your keys copied at the hardware store. You can make a copy at a kiosk machine or upload photos to the cloud and have a copy delivered. Now, you can also order a 3D printed copy of your key, complete with a top customized to look like anything from your kid’s face to your initials. KeyMe paired up with 3D printing company Shapeways to offer the service. Prices range from $10 to $4,000 for plastic, brass or gold keys.
KeyMe 3D printed keys

In Brief

NASA announced today it has entered negotiations with SpaceX to allow private use of the historic Kennedy Space Center launch pad, where every NASA launch since 1968, including the first mission to the Moon, took place. NASA plans to open the center up to both government and private sector use. SpaceX has already completed contract work for the government, including delivering supplies to the International Space Station.

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