Monday, January 17, 2011

What are 3-D printers? Anyone who has carving tools or tries to make that bird out of wood, you too are easily replaced as the portrait artist is replaced by a really good digital camera and some oil paints. With a 3-D printer you can put a design on a computer and it can create reality. After all, we have 3-D televisions readily available too.
Here is how it works. You design an object like a cup or group of words on a computer which in turn sends your design to the printer. Instead of ink dotting the image onto paper, this printer builds the object by squirting melted plastic into layers until it has constructed your design into an item. It’s like having a factory wherever you are. This is the first time this type of technology has been offered to consumers not only available to large manufacturers in factories. Yes, I can make my own junk from my beach house!!
We are now called techno-hobbyists. People are making toys, chess sets, lamps, serving trays and packaging or any exotic thing you can think of. There is a company called Shapeways that could help you understand the new things you can create without making the investment in a 3-D printer first. Go to the website and pick objects that others have designed, tweak them into something you like, the company’s software can configure it and you can order it. Shapeways will make the thing on their equipment and will send it to you.
If you are into personalization of your initials or name, this will fill your ego. They print stuff in all sorts of materials like plastic in many colors, glass and stainless steel. Napkin rings are fun. Surprise your guests with a ring with their name on it. That’s over the top in cool. They have a “create your own” click on their website and it’s yours with a little information.
A 3-D printer, the BFB 3000 is made from a company called Bits From Bytes and is about 2.3 feet high and fabricates items in plastic. All you guys unemployed, start your own factory. Hope you have a nest egg. If you have $15,000 you can buy a decent machine that would fit in a office. If you have $100,000 you can get a professional machine that fits in a warehouse. For 1-2 thousand you can get a hobbyist machine. The instructions are difficult to understand but you might create something.
Hey, I don’t think I’ll buy this stuff anytime soon but if you are artistic, creative or just want to design stuff, go for it. It’s just another thing available to us so we can live alone on an island and do our own thing but still be in contact with people and offer something to society. Yes, the way of the world. Let me have stuff but leave me alone.

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