As I wander around and talk to others about 3D Printing, I'm often struck by how little is known about it and how difficult it is for people to wrap their minds around it.
3D Printing is not new. Large industrial companies and government entities had use of 3D printing since the 1980s, but today we now see a wave of low cost ($1000 +/-) small desktop 3D Printers due to the patent expiration.
Now, you and I have access to this technology. We have always been able to design something, but now we can actually print it and have a physical version of an idea in our hands in just a few hours. The future is indeed here.
The first thing that comes to mind is a low tech version of the Star Trek Replicator. Making something from nothing. Not quite. Perhaps one day.
Think of it as a computer controlled glue gun. You know, those craft glue guns that melt a solid glue filament. Squeezing the trigger extrudes the melted filament and
the glue quickly dries and solidifies as it cools.
Desktop 3D printers use a long, thin filament of plastic which is melted, and extruded layer over layer to create mass.
A computer generated 3D model file guide the motors that control the positioning of the extruder and height of the table.
We end up with a real plastic version of a 'thing' that once existed only as an idea in your mind.
Older desktop 3D printers were a bit expensive ($4,000 +/-) and required you to be a tech guru to operate. Calibrating the printer was a pain and required constant attention. But the filament was
inexpensive and available by the roll.
Today, as with any new technology, it's better. They have come down in price by over 50% ($500 +/-) and have become more dependable. They are now available from major chains such as Walmart, Sears, Sams Club and Staples.
More and more new models are self-calibrating so you don't need to be a tinkerer to enjoy 3D printing anymore. But filament is now more expensive and encased in cartridges that can only be used for that particular model, a way for 3D printer manufacturers to recoup their costs while offering printers at a lower price.
Hursto Presto Studios does have access to a basic desktop 3D printer, but we find the use of higher grade industrial 3D printers affords the best quality for our customers.
We utilize a professional 3D printer in New York for our printing needs which maintains quality, and keeps costs down to obtain affordability.
Industrial printers run upward to $100,000 or more using laser powder based sintering and other technologies, and with them we can offer high quality and materials other than just Plastic such as Acrylic, Stainless Steel, Full Color Sandstone, and now Glazed Porcelain. New materials are always in development.
It's a different world now. 3D Printing Is Here.