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We’ve recently become enthralled with 3D printers. I even had a dream about using one the other night where I was talking with someone about “making a tree” or something oddball like that, and he told me, “Okay, let’s do it now,” and (in my dream), he pressed a button and lo and behold, a “tree” just kind of “grew” on top of the desk. So… anyway, I have vivid dreams. (No gold coins were created though… haha!)
Anyway, there is no reason to feel limited by two-dimensional printing anymore. If you are struggling to convey a 3-dimensional idea to someone at the office, have it printed in three dimensions and show people what are you have been thinking about. This is really, truly possible right now and has been going on for longer than the average person might imagine.
How Does It Work?
With a conventional printer, you take something from your computer and copy it onto paper to share and to see. Information comes from software, files saved into your documents, and so on. With a 3D item, special software allows the user to create a model of something precisely. An example might be a figurine one would place on a shelf. It would be created without necessarily having any artistic skill thanks to an advanced, user-friendly software program. Reports say it can work with mechanical parts, jewelry, and much more.
In fact, for many years manufacturers have been using 3D printers to create items either to continue the process of creating a finished item, looking at a prototype and so on, or to create the finished item. Companies are saving money and time by spending big money on commercial 3D printers because, in spite of their cost (which is coming down), these machines allow commercial operations to create prototypes on the spot without having to send away for them. If a change has to be made, it is also created on the spot. There is no waiting and the cost is much less.
There are items which can be placed on a desktop at work and can be used even in a small office space. Bigger machines take up half of a room, but those are not the biggest. The biggest 3D printing machines are for manufacturing items for sale. These can be created, seemingly, out of any media.
One brand provides inexpensive versions of those printers specifically for making models. Insert the filament color you need and watch smoothly finished items pile up on your desk for sale to customers anywhere in the world.
For Personal Use
On the other hand, keep them and finish them to be added to a collection you are building, to give as gifts, or to put in your garden. You can even have a printer at home and use it to duplicate items for your hobbies such as model parts. The software you need is already available and some of it for free, but other items must be purchased. They give you the ability to print off things which you would ordinarily have to order, maybe wait weeks for, and then possibly return because of a fault or damage which occurred when the item was shipped. Imagine having that technology on your desk at home: it is possible and affordable.
Some machines are just a few hundred dollars to purchase. Of course, providing the materials to use them is not like buying paper and ink cartridges. This is where expenses will increase considerably.
Like any individual who wants to buy some technological gizmo and has to have the best, there are expensive models of personal printers too. They are getting cheaper but cost a few thousand dollars to own.
When VHS first came out, hardly anyone owned a video player. To watch a movie at home meant renting the machine and the movie. People did not own printers. They took floppy disks to special print shops and had items produced that way. Individuals still take their information to print and photocopy shops to save money on the costs of printing masses of material, especially in color or in particular styles of paper. This way they do not have to own the technology or find room for it when they can hardly ever see themselves using it.
The same is true for 3D printing. Shops providing this service are more common today than ever. If you are not sure about the uses you could find for 3D printing, try the software without buying a machine. (Of course you can buy them for home use.)
Writers on the subject of 3D printing note that the possibilities continue to expand and change the world we live in. Once someone comes up with an idea, it seems only a short while before it is brought to fruition now that the technology exists. For instance, there are reports of using 3D bioprinters for testing medicines and for other medical purposes.
Who knows where it’s all going to lead? Right now, there are a number of desktop versions available, such as the one in this LulzBot Mini Desktop 3D printer review here at the site. People are having a blast learning this new technology, and I’m guessing it won’t be long before they’re seen in schools and homes everywhere!