January 3, 2013 AT 7:00 am

Why Does 3D Printing Matter? #3dthursday

MakerBotRep2

(c) 2012 Louis Seigal // seigalphotography.com

An article aimed at the question of the mainstream appeal of 3D printers from Business Insider, including a few thoughts from some folks from the 3D community:

The same way that personal computing became a hotbed of innovation in the early 1970s, 3D printing seems to be experiencing a similar renaissance.

While 3D printers were once huge, pricey devices reserved for the industrial elite, they have lately been adapted to fit on your desktop at home.

All over the world, hobbyist manufacturers are extruding plastic objects for prototyping or simply for fun.
But how important is 3D printing? And should you even care about it?

If you’re a tinkerer or DIY-er, then you should care a lot. The reasons here are obvious – having a 3D printer and being well-versed in how to use it gives you another tool in your belt to tackle problems and create new objects. Did a small and specifically-shaped piece of plastic break in your coffee machine? Now you can replace it in an afternoon without having to call the manufacturer.

Interest among the maker community is so rampant that a number of 3D printing companies have sprung up to sell printers and related hardware. MakerBot, a darling of the 3D printing world, was profitable on its 42nd day in operation. Formlabs ran a Kickstarter to bring its Form-1 printer to market and raised just under $3 million. The maker scene has such a big crush on 3D printers right now that there was even a designated “3D Printer Village” at this year’s New York Maker Faire.

All these facts send a strong message –– there is a large community that will always be paying attention to 3D printing.

Regardless of its relevance, people will still decry it. Criticisms will include “Who is this for?” and “The technology isn’t good enough to become relevant.” If you’re mostly apathetic to the DIY approach, it’s fine not to care about the field. Just be open to the idea that you might change your mind down the road.

Read more.


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Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!

Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!

The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!

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