I knew that 3D printing, crafting three-dimensional objects using CAD and a variety of materials from plastics to metal, existed, but it was a mystery to me. I know that these printers have become more affordable such that they are in the price range of more schools (a little over $2,000), but I knew very little about them. This past summer when I went to Danbury Fair Mall in Danbury, CT, I had the opportunity to visit the new Microsoft Store, and there they had one of the MakerBot Replicators in action. Since one of the designs was a small shark, and since I know how DE has a plethora of assets dealing with sharks, I asked the young man to please demo the printer by creating one for me. This particular model used coils of plastic in different colors, each of which was fed through an extruder (think that is what it was called) to create the 3D shape. I was using my old 3G iPhone to snap the pictures, and they are a bit fuzzy, but they should give you an idea of the process. The printer was following a design created in a software program that was compatible. I asked, and the rep said he thought that an object created using Google’s Sketch-Up might be able to be converted to a file that the printer could read. I am a bit fuzzy on how the young man set up the printer, but he said placement of the board on which the 3D object would be built had to be precise. Also, he told me that the hexagon shape was something the printer used for stability and conservation of materials.
I think I need a tutorial on inserting multiple images into a post!
Anyway, if you want to know more, here are some links to more on 3D printing:
I highly recommend you watch the whole thing, but the part where he talks about “printing food” customized for us as individuals runs from 15:08 – 18:44.