3-D printing can bring manufacturing into the home

Technology available in Oklahoma City and worldwide allows people to create real-world items from computer blueprints
by Lillie-Beth Brinkman Modified: July 10, 2013 at 2:30 pm •  Published: July 9, 2013

As vice president of sales and marketing for Global Software Corp., Eric Thompson of Edmond has some ideas for using a 3-D printer as a marketing tool and hopes to try one out soon.

“I've read about it. I've kept up with it online, but I've never seen it in person or used it,” Thompson said. “I think that people will use it (3-D printing) to create more gadgets or more trinkets. ... I see it more for tinkerers.”

Others would like to print replacement parts for their home appliances and other devices. Collectors of action figures would like to design and create their own.

Kyle Gandy, art director for NewsOK's audience development team who has gotten interested in 3-D printing, asked Davis to print out two accessories for cameras — a hot shoe attachment and a table dolly to hold a camera for slow, gliding shots on a table top. Gandy also said he wanted to use a 3-D printer to print parts to help him organize tools in his garage.

‘The start of anything'

To explain the 3-D concept, Gandy suggested thinking of it like children using colored pencils to create items from their imagination. Currently, materials used in 3-D printers include plastics, nylons and even a wood-like mixture. He has even read about a fashion show that included all 3-D-printed clothing items.

“People have started thinking in terms of ‘can I make this?' ” said Gandy, adding that he envisions seeing 3-D printers in the appliance section of stores in the near future. “It's hard to tell people what a 3-D printer is good for because what is it not good for? ... It can be the start of anything.”

As for firearms, an organization named Defense Distributed has made blueprints for gun parts and ammunition magazines available on the Internet. This has sparked some debate but doesn't appear to break any laws. According to ATF.gov, manufacturing a firearm for personal use is legal in most cases.

Those in the industry think that in the future, people will buy 3-D printers for their homes as readily as they do ink-paper printers.

During the recent visit, Davis was in the process of calibrating his MendelMax printer for the first time, so he wasn't happy with a few ridges on the final print of the pyramid. He had sped up the process for onlookers in a “fast draft” kind of way.

However, he is an enthusiastic ambassador for the industry.

“From art to engineering to hobbyists, I mean it really transverses the gamut from one side to the other,” Davis said. “That's one of the neatest parts of it.”



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