08.08.2013

3D Printing Comes Home

By: TJ McCue
This sponsored article was written by T.J. McCue, a Seattle-based technology writer and consultant. His work appears in publications including Forbes.com, Small Business Trends, American Express OPEN Forum, and the Harvard Business Review. You can follow

While 3D printing has made its way into the wired, tech-savvy home, most don’t realize it is a trend that has been growing in manufacturing industries for decades. Plastic, metal or ceramic are some of the more common materials used during the printing process. From a do-it-yourself iPhone case to your own custom-made jewelry, you can now “print” almost anything you can dream up—if you have the computer design chops-- on affordable 3D printers from companies like MakerBot and FormLabs.

[Children's Technology Review interviewing MakerBot’s John Dimatos in 2012 about what an early $1,750 single head 3D printer can do. While MakerBot has moved on to a higher price point, many other companies have stepped in to offer sub-$1,000 printers to consumers and small businesses]

Intel Co-founder Gordon Moore and the law that bears his name continue to prove true in other technology besides computer chips. By way of very powerful computers and high-speed internet, 3D printing is rapidly bringing about a revolution for consumers by making it possible to print everyday items. Many household parts can be replaced on-demand, one at a time. In essence, the modern factory is changing.

There is a burgeoning community of do-it-yourself types that have helped speed the development of 3D printing. MakerBot, in addition to its 3D printers, is home to an active design repository known as Thingiverse where users often share designs for others to download and use, for free. But a large amount of credit for 3D printing awareness belongs to crowdsourcing communities, such as, Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, for speeding the pace of innovation, bringing us better, easier-to-use printers.

Look for our next post on 3D printing that will include a gallery of cool creations as well as how you can print your own designs via user-friendly service bureaus without buying a 3D printer.

In the meantime, enjoy this rather extreme example of 3D printing at home: Ivan Sentch’s vintage Aston Martin DB4 made on a $500 Solidoodle printer:

About the author(s): 

This sponsored article was written by T.J. McCue, a Seattle-based technology writer and consultant. His work appears in publications including Forbes.com, Small Business Trends, American Express OPEN Forum, and the Harvard Business Review. You can follow him on Twitter at @TJMcCue.