Imagine a world where you could shop online for a wrench, download its CAD file and 3D print it from the comfort of your home in what amounts to virtually instant delivery. While today’s technology is not quite at the level of the Matter Compilers of Star Trek, the 3D printer revolution is still going strong. For the artist, the tinkerer, or the craftsman who is willing to put in the time and effort, a 3D printer can be a valuable addition to the DIYers workshop. Here are 3 reasons you need a 3D printer in your life.
Bring your Art Projects to Life
Science is art, and this concept has been made manifest in a growing movement of 3D printed art. From Rob and Nick Carter’s 3D interpretations of Vincent Van Gogh’s famous turbulent flowers to the 3D printed sound waves of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address. There’s even Xuedi Chen and Pedro Oliveira’s x.pose, a “personalized wearable data-driven sculpture” that syncs with the wearer’s smartphone and physically exposes skin based on the amount of metadata your phone leaks to websites and social media—a clever commentary on how naked we all are on the internet. Print custom figurines for your favorite board games, mind bending geometric sculptures, or miniatures of your favorite movie sets. Let your imagination run wild and upload your own creations on Thingiverse.
Let Loose your Inner Inventor
Perhaps the most practical application for a 3D printer is to use it to print engineering prototypes. While mainstream media has only caught on to 3D printing in the last couple of years, engineers have used 3D printers for decades. Turn your CAD models of electric motors, diesel engines, airplanes, and rockets, into 3D prototypes you can use to pitch ideas to the boardroom. 3D printers aren’t just good for prototypes; join a movement like e-Nable which makes cheap 3D printed prosthetic limbs for children all around the world. Or print the parts you need to make your very own quadcopter! The things you can invent for humanity are only limited by your imagination, so have fun with your 3D printer.
3D Print DIY Solutions for your Home!
Ever tinker in your garage and find yourself in need of a custom rig to hold something in place? With a 3D printer you could print yourself a fastener custom made for the project you are working on. Print wrenches, plastic gears, test tube holders, mounts, templates, you name it. Print yourself a rack to hold all your 3D printed tools. You can even print yourself all the parts you need to make another 3D printer—the RepRap is an open source printer that prints all the plastic parts needed to replicate itself allowing you to print one for a friend.
Choose the Right 3D Printer for your Needs
Now that you have a few ideas about what you can do with a 3D printer, you might be wondering how you can acquire one of your own. As 3D printers become better and easier to use, more models are beginning to appear on the market, making it overwhelming for a newcomer to decide what to buy. The short answer is, it depends on what you want to use your printer for. A designer will probably need higher resolution than someone who just wants to print toys for their kids. Likewise some models, while powerful, might be too technically difficult for anyone other than an engineer to use. Try a Flashforge Creator, CubePro Duo, or MakerBot Replicator Mini for some good starter printers. Take a look at what other people are making on Thingiverse for ideas on which model 3D printer is best for you. You’ll be surprised what you can whip up on a desktop 3D printer!
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