3D Printing Skills – Are You Ready to Print?
Maybe not yet, but there is always time for building 3D Printing Skills
3D Printing has become accessible to home hobbyists, pro-sumers and design professionals like us, but is it really ready to go mainstream? The design learning curve is very steep so you need to have a lot of time on your hands and be prepared to experiment. We have been 3D modeling and designing for over 25 years and had to relearn how to design just to begin the technical side of 3D Printing skill building. It took us 2 weeks and more than 30 hours to design and successfully print our Neck Tie, especially because we had to come up with a creative to build the length of the tie within a small build volume.
It took 15 hours to print, but you can see it 3D Printing in our YouTube time-lapse video in less than a minute.
As design experts, we have to do everything we can to keep up our skills and expertise in a broad range of manufacturing techniques. Even if you don’t believe 3D Printing is going to be the third industrial revolution, you still need to understand its capabilities and limitations first hand to bolster your resume with 3D Printing skills. Our $3500 investment in a Makerbot 5th Generation Replicator was well worth it.
Through experimentation we have cleared up some of our preconceptions about 3D Printing and come to these conclusions. 1) It is not plug & play. 2) It is not fast enough for any realistic production. 3) Material cost is negligible. But don’t go cheap on the filament. We have discovered some extremely desirable features, especially to those of us who have been designing for mass production for so long. 1) Mass customization (make-it-yours) is possible. 2) There are design geometries that will never be possible with traditional manufacturing. 3) We want to 3D Print everything!
We are looking forward to fabricating two-color variations of our Neck Tie on our Leapfrog CreatrHS. The flexibility and two color capability excites as to the possibilities of what to make and how to expand our 3D Printing Skills. Upcoming 3D Print Design plans – purses, clothing, housewares, office accessories, custom colored filament, tool kits, a cabinet, furniture… Our list is endless – I only wish we had more time for experimentation.