Advancing Technology: 3-D Print

by Erika Woelfel

You hear the fantastic stories where people are amazed by the “magic” of machines generating everything from small toys and gadgets to large objects like engines and furniture…and you wonder: Is it real or not? As far-fetched as it seems, these possibilities are real thanks to additive manufacturing, or 3D printing. Manufacturers have been using 3D modeling for years to create prototypes, or short run end-user products. It hasn’t been until recently that personal 3D printers have appeared on the market. Right now they are still expensive although like all technology, prices are coming down. Services like Shapeways and Ponoko also make it possible to print and deliver items that are uploaded to their websites.

3D modelers use plastic, metal, nylon and many other substrates to create dimensional forms created in CAD programs. So what is it that you can print? Just about anything: Toys, jewelry, hardware, portraits and art object are just the beginning. The dimensionality of an object is achieved by the device building layer upon layer of the printing material (think layer cake without all the baking).

Many 3D printed objects can be made in one color only. Additional color means more technology and cost.

Many 3D printed objects can be made in one color only. Additional color means more technology and cost.

 

Last year I saw 3D print demo live for the first time in London at the 100% Design show. Many of the items at that time were conceptual, ranging from jewelry pieces to fashion items. Since then, the emerging technology has blossomed on the scene, and the possibilities seem endless. My neighbor just told me he was purchasing a 3D pen. It was confirmed 9/19 in the news that the world’s first 3-D car was printed out of carbon fiber plastic by Strati Motors in Phoenix. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/09/19/so-this-exists-a-working-car-has-been-3d-printed-out-of-carbon-fiber-plastic/

I suddenly realized: Someday you may be looking at a new pair of sunglasses, an astonishing pair shoes or a fantastic piece of jewelry and think to yourself: Were these fabricated by hand, on an assembly line, or were they produced on a 3D printer?! We are at the edge of a new era when it comes to design innovations.

3-D fashion items at 100% Design in London 2013

3-D fashion items at 100% Design in London 2013

You’d never know they weren’t made by hand…All that glitters must certainly be printed!

 You’d never know they weren’t made by hand…All that glitters must certainly be printed!

This chair was 3D printed. The production of large scale pieces are certainly within the scope of this technology. For now, single colors are easier to produce than multiple colors.

 This chair was 3D printed. The production of large scale pieces are certainly within the scope of this technology. For now, single colors are easier to produce than multiple colors.

Most people have only ever seen themselves in two dimensions, on the flat surface of printed paper or a screen.  Thanks to 3D printing, we will now have access to a more accurate representation of how we really appear! I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, all I know is that is it incredible!

Most people have only ever seen themselves in two dimensions, on the flat surface of printed paper or a screen.  Thanks to 3D printing, we will now have access to a more accurate representation of how we really appear! I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, all I know is that is it incredible!

Colorfully yours,

 

Erika

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