We’re living in the future now, people! Or, 3D Printing and You

I went to an interesting meetup on Monday night, hosted by the Shapeways company. 

(The meetup happened in the pub, so please excuse the poor quality photos and my uncanny ability to snap a shot mid-blink)

For those that haven’t seen, Shapeways is a provider of 3D printing to the masses. You can upload a design, get a quote immediately and have it printed and delivered in a few days. So far they’re offering materials such as stainless steel, alimide, glass, coloured sandstone, all manner of plastics both flexible and rigid, and even sterling silver.

http://www.shapeways.com/


It was truly fascinating to see what people are coming up with. I’m no stranger to the process (as I’ve told nearly everyone, I own the 3rd makerbot ever sold), but this took me aback quite a bit. The sheer variety of designs and applications that were being used by people right now, here in Sydney.

Janelle, (a.k.a. Unellenu) brought along a few amazing pieces in metal and plastic. Check out her store and gorgeous fractal artworks:
shapeways.com/shops/unellenu


The pendant is printed in silver and has an amazing branching pattern. My first thoughts were phylogenetic trees in biology, but turns out it’s a coral inspired design:

Also present was Lee, who’s a regular at Dorkbot and who brought along all manner of cool printed metal pieces. Especially nifty were the linked, chain mail type artifacts created already linked up:


I guess another thing that struck me is that the process is wonderfully dual-use (to borrow the military phrase). Here’s a technology which is being used for real world applications and problem solving, making gearboxes, housings and other parts, but also used to create the most vivid and organic looking artworks. It seems that it’s rare to find something so amenable to both worlds, and when they do, it’s a game-changer.

Although I love my makerbot and will continue to print most of my stuff with it, I see that there is an untapped horizon of detail out there. Next stop for me is to order a materials sample kit and have a think…
http://www.shapeways.com/model/133452/shapeways_materials_sample_kit.html?gid=mg

($30 cost and they give you a $25 gift voucher for your next order)