What is a 3D Printer?


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http://live.pirillo.com/ – Mike Sutter sent me an email, wondering what exactly 3D printing is, what it does, and how much it costs.

Normally, your home or office printer is 2D, or 2 dimensional. In other words, it prints in length and width. So what is that third dimension? It’s height, of course. Height? How the heck can you print height? Elementary, my dear Watson… 3D printing. Three-dimensional printing is a method of converting a virtual 3D model into a physical object. 3D printing is a category of rapid prototyping technology. 3D printers typically work by ‘printing’ successive layers on top of the previous to build up a three dimensional object. 3D printers are generally faster, more affordable and easier to use than other additive fabrication technologies.

Apparently, some of our community members are already utilizing this type of printer, in their schools or workplaces. This from John (Mool):

Hey Chris, you have just finished your video on 3D printing and printers, and i have used one of these at school, there is both actual 3D model printers that make it out of plastic an just super high def printing for architecture and design. We use these in CADD (Computer Aided Drafting and Design) class where we make a bunch of 3D things from tools to cars to parts for machines etc…. Then we print them using the Hi Def 3d printer or the actual 3D printer that can make models, which is much like a CNC mill that molds plastic with water, except this does it in layer printing, with some sort of a powder and ink sprayers.

From Jim (BugHouse):

I have been speaking with some people about 3D printing in a retail enviornment. There is talk about creating custom manufacturing for people and putting it out there at a retail level. For example, imagine sports trouphies for like a kids baseball team, all with customer figures that actually look like each individual kid. How about custom dolls, action figured or toys? I saw a video of a guy creating a watch band. I agree, we are a way off yet from bringing it down to a level an everyday user can – but the retailers are looking at this more and more.

If you’d like to watch a 3D printer in action, check out this video on YouTube.

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