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Tuesday
Apr092013

3D Printing

A few weeks ago we purchased our first 3D printer.  For those of you living under a rock, or thinking that 3D printing is to regular printing what 3D movies are to 2D movies, this post is for you. I won't explain the technical details or benefits of the technology.  What I will do is share with you what I found to be an unusual use case, something entirely unexpected.

If you bought a computer or smartphone in the last several years, you are familiar with the digital equivalent of "some assembly required".  On power up you must immediately download and install software updates just to get the functionality you purchased.  You then follow that up by loading the key applications that are important to you. Continue reading to see the hardware equivalent for 3D printing.

The printer we purchased was the Afinia H Series 3D printer. It came with a spool holder capable of supporting a 1.5 lbs spool of plastic filament.  We had also ordered multiples spools of 2.2 lbs of filament that would not fit on the holder (it being cheaper).  So did we need to order a larger spool holder attachment? No. We simply downloaded a 3D file for the the larger spool holder, and printed it out using the material from the smaller reel. We essentially used the machine to modify itself, by creating parts for itself.  There are also a number of files for making spare parts.

The RepRap project takes this idea a bit further, where you can print many of the parts to build your own 3D printer. It will be interesting to see where this leads.

A prototype printed on our printer

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