This past week was the 3D Print Show, held at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City.
Of course we attended; here is what we learned.
1. 3D printing is quickly becoming a big deal. There are now dozens of companies making 3D printers.
2. Lots of artists and designers are now using 3D printing technology; for example, take a look at Nervous System to see lighting designs, jewelry, and other design ideas. Or check out Joshua Harker’s works of art. Or Davide Prete, who makes sculpture and jewelry.
3. There are 2 major companies where you can upload your 3D design and have it printed in various media, including ABS plastic, translucent plastic, resin, brass, sterling silver, stainless steel, or ceramic. The best-known is Shapeways; another I just learned about is i.materialise. Both sites also let you sell your designs to a general audience.
4. There is a place in New York City to go for 3D printing as well as classes on 3D printing. It’s called 3DHeights and it’s up at 172nd Street and Broadway in Manhattan.
5. Most 3D printers start at $1200 and can go up fast from there. However there’s a new company, The Micro 3D, whose mission is to make a very small 3D printer for a purchase price starting at $200. Their Kickstarter campaign begins soon; check out the website for details. So prices are coming down fast.
6. You need special software to design a 3D object for printing; there are various free open-source options, online options, and of course paid options. Here are a few of the more inexpensive options:
- Tinkercad: Free and basic online tool
- Inkscape: Free, available for Mac, Windows, Linux
- Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud: Has 3D options built in; $50/month or free if you already have Photoshop CC
- Sculptris: Calls itself “digital sculpting,” free
- Blender: Very complex, can be used for animation also, free