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« CAD: January 24, 2012 SolidWorks Week in Review ... | Main | CAD: A Professional Routine for CAD Professionals … »

CAD: Something Old, Something New and Something Chocolate in 3D Printing …


MakerBot ReplicatorThe year is still young and yet the first great technology conference of the year has come and gone. We’re talking about CES 2012, of course, and in its wake there are more people than ever talking about the topic of “3D Printing.” Whether they are educators trying to get students interested in technology or hobbyist looking to make their own widgets, it seems as if everyone suddenly wants a 3D printer.

Units and Services

It’s nearly impossible to have a discussion on the topic of 3D printing without the name “MakerBot” popping up. And why shouldn’t it? While large scale rapid prototypers have been growing in presence in the engineering world, they carried a price tag in the multi-hundred thousand dollar range. That’s a bit more than Joe Curious can spare from the budget. But MakerBot changed all of that. Suddenly for just a few hundred dollars normal people could start printing their own 3D objects!

Not long after MakerBots began popping up all over the country and the internet, even lower-cost alternatives appeared. From PrintTo3D.com to Cubify sites all over the internet offered to create your 3D models for just a few dollars each. Suddenly it seemed as if there was no reason for anyone to not create their own smartphone case, tablet stand, or entire chess set. In some cases a computer isn’t even needed!

3D Sustainability

MCOR Paper AirplaneWhile MakerBot and most 3D printers use rolls of low temperature plastics, like ABS, to make their models, some forward thinkers have other ideas. Imagine a world where all those proof prints of specs, mark-up sheets, and other office paper could be recycled. But don’t think “recycle” in the traditional manner. Imagine that you could load those wasted pages into a machine and use them to create 3D models out of paper!

Not green enough for you? Then you are going to find this Kickstarter project very interesting. Why? Oh no reason except that these 3D printing entrepreneurs are out to recycle your plastic jugs, shampoo bottles, and even old 3D printed models into fresh, new printing filament! What does that boil down to? Just that instead of endlessly ordering the plastic to feed your printer from the manufacturer you can transform your empty milk jug into your next 3D design. And you could do it all on site!

The Personal Side

There’s no doubt that the 3D printing revolution is beginning to pick up steam and we couldn’t be more excited about it. It seems that every week there are new and exciting developments coming from this technology sector. Whether it is newer and bigger consumer models like the MakerBot Replicator or even 3D printers that work with chocolate as the medium there is plenty of innovation and excitement in the field.

So with all this forward thinking, we began to wonder where the consumer 3D printing movement began. Looking back it was obvious that MakerBot was the real watershed moment that brought 3D printing into the mainstream. So who is the man behind MakerBot? That would be Mr. Bre Pettis and we found that there’s more to him than 3D printing!

Watch this embedded video interview from Triangulation, on the TWiT Network for a fantastic interview recorded at CES 2012.

The End

So what is coming next now that “normal” people and local news broadcasts are talking about 3D printing? Well if we knew that we wouldn’t be running a blog. We would be out there inventing something and then moving to a tropical island after our IPO! What we do know is that whatever the near future holds for 3D printing it is going to be big and it’s going to change our world. Now we just have to work out a scheme to get one here at Kung Fu Drafter …

- KFD -

Image credits: MakerBot and  MCOR Technologies.

Video credit: TWiT TV.

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