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Top 5 Reasons to Get a 3D Printer


By: Jackie Marchildon, Staff Writer

Despite having been around for over a decade, 3D printers were barely a topic of discussion until Z Corporation printed a moving wrench back in 2011. Before,  engineers, designers and corporations  were privy to the futuristic technology that 3D printing offered, but now you can buy your own 3D printer starting at approximately $500.00. As the future moves forward, the ideas for 3D printing are endless—even for hobbyists at home!

Derek Quenneville works at 3DPhacktory, a design studio located in Toronto that helps to print your ideas in 3D, be it for movie props or future prototypes. He also hosts monthly meetings for 3D printer enthusiasts at the gallery space Site 3. Quenneville works to help clients design the best objects they can, and has printed some interesting objects himself, but he cautions that it takes time to learn how to use the machine correctly.

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Courtesy of kakissel

Now presenting the top five things you can do with your 3D printer.

 5. You Can Really Mess Something Up: “The first thing I tried was a fork,” Quenneville laughs, now in a studio surrounded by printing systems, “and it didn’t work…but eventually it did.” When Quenneville first bought his MakerBot (a popular type of 3D printer) it was only available in kit form, which meant that it had to be assembled. How well your object would print depended on how well you assembled the printer. Nowadays, most printers are preassembled, but learning how to extrude materials at the appropriate temperatures is important and will come with practice.

4. Wood Work: Over the last year, fabricators have managed to create a wood filament for 3D printers. Not only does this mean the ability to create new and cool objects, it means a cheaper way to print objects because wood is a readily available resource. Freedom of Creation, a design and research company based out of Amsterdam, has created a new printing process using fine sawdust called “Tree-D Printing.” Imagine the endless possibilities. Furniture, anyone?

3. Accessorize: Because of the materials often used for 3D printing (plastics, rubber-like materials and polymer,) it was inevitable that someone would come up with a trendy way to take advantage of the machines. At home, you can print jewelry, eyeglasses and even shoes! Worried about dropping your phone? You can design yourself a unique phone case and produce it at home.

[pullquote]Worried about dropping your phone? You can design yourself a unique phone case and produce it at home.[/pullquote]

2. Print Out Your Friends: According to Quenneville, you can scan your friends and print them out using Xbox Kinect in line with Geomagic’s Kinect-to-3D print app, which uses the Xbox sensors to capture the mesh of a person, which can then be turned into a 3D printed model.

1. Make Food: The ultimate ability that 3D printers have for hobbyists has  to be the ability to make food. Using the appropriate add-ons, nozzles and printing filaments, you can make anything from chocolate, to peanut butter to cookie dough. Imagine craving peanut butter and being able to taste it without going to the store? The future tastes good.

Although 3D printing sounds like a fun and interesting concept for hobbyist inventors, the innovative concept has been at the forefront of some amazing creations. An 83-year-old woman received a jaw transplant that was printed in 3D in the Netherlands in 2011 and a Dutch architect is currently working on 3D printing a house.

Jackie Marchildon recently graduated with her degree in journalism from Ryerson University. After spending a semester abroad, Jackie has avid travel plans and enjoys writing about almost everything, from human rights issues to arts and entertainment.

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