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December 8, 2015 09:57

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Five reasons to get into 3D printing and design

3D design and printing have hit the mainstream, where you can explore your ideas as quickly as you can think of them…

Realisation of an Idea

3D printing brings your ideas to life, from your initial concept to creation in a short space of time, without the frustration. If you have ever tried to submit an idea to manufacturers or to bring an idea to market yourself, getting a prototype made using traditional techniques and possibly third parties can be expensive and time-consuming.

A basic 3D printer could create a good enough model to demonstrate concepts and ideas to manufacturers, and help improve those ideas before building a more expensive prototype. Saving you time and money in the process. Of course, if your dream is to design a unique chess set for yourself, you can tinker to your hearts content to find your ideal design, the concept is the same, make that idea a reality, easily.

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Make it don't buy it

It’s no stretch of the imagination that creating your own household products using an inexpensive 3D printer and software such as DesignSpark Mechanical for things like a coat hook, a toilet roll holder, shower head or smartphone case, could save a few pounds a year, and it could be a bit more fun than wandering around a crowded store.

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These very same principles are being adopted by many industries today and prove invaluable to facilities in remote areas who are in need of quick replacement parts to restore functionality to equipment for example. The ability to print you own components for repair or conceptual design is breaking down traditional barriers and opening the doors to faster innovation.

Recently a ratchet wrench was 3D printed on the International Space Station as part of their plans to travel to Mars, opening up greater possibilities in space travel. Even food has been 3D printed and consumed, a concept I currently find rather unappetising!

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Bring it back to life

If you have a broken device of some kind, be that at home or in an industrial scenario, often, replacement parts can be difficult to find, and expensive to buy. Sometimes the part you need is no longer available if the item is old or of a unique design, 3D printing could solve that problem. If it’s something simple like the plastic casing for a PCB, print yourself a new one, with a 3D printer and DesignSpark Mechanical software it’s easy.

There are people who use 3D printing to create items for vintage vehicle restoration, which can mean the use of an expensive printer, but can prove to be a lot cheaper than sourcing engineers to recreate vintage parts. Some enterprising companies have even 3D printed cars!

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Individually yours

You could make yourself a pair of shoes, entirely unique to you. A personalised spectacle frame, Christmas decorations, false fingernails, a new briefcase, or as mentioned above a car (which might be challenging!) Try it out, see what you can make for yourself!

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These concepts and ideas are already available, either by commercial enterprises today, or by yourself, if you purchased a 3D printer and obtained design software like DesignSpark Mechanical with the 3D add on modules, and used some artistic flair.

Want it? Make it...

The best thing about 3D printing is that it can free you from the boundaries of what has already been manufactured. When you own a 3D printer, you can make anything you want, within the limits of the printer model you have of course! Want a custom made case for your smartphone? Print it, a new glasses case; make it. At the higher end there’s printing a replacement valve cover for your car’s engine, creating jewellery or even electronic components for PCBs.

3D printing has been used in medical procedures, using body scans to sculpt replacement joints, and recreate organs to allow doctors to examine the body parts without complicated surgery.

The only real limits are your imagination and of course your budget, and as time progresses, and the technology improves further and becomes even more readily available and cheaper, so do the possibilities, want it? Make it!

Countless years taking things to bits to see how they tick...

December 8, 2015 09:57

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