Thursday, March 19, 2015

3D printing and architectural design

I recently bought a 3D printer kit off the internet. Before doing so, I did some research and spoke with a co-worker who had recently purchase one also. My research gave me a good idea what type/style of printer I wanted. My co-worker actually pointed me to a supplier who I eventually purchased my printer from.

Before making my purchase, I did some research on the supplier to see what kind of reviews people had given them and their products. In this case, both of these turned out to be quite positive.

The printer I purchased ended up costing me just under $400 including shipping, pretty cheap by 3D printer standards. The kit arrived in a large box full of parts and individually labeled bags. Nice!With their instructions, I spent a few days assembling the printer. I then needed to download the software, install it and begin the process of getting the printer to communicate with my computer.

Things went pretty smoothly until I started trying to set the endstops for the print head. It just wasn't doing what it was supposed to, at least according to the documents I had. Luckily, I do have some experience with computers and electro-mechanical equipment. After some time, I discovered that I had 3 wire connections that were faulty from the factory. I fixed these problems fairly quickly and was ready to make my first print.

As you might expect, my first attempts at printing were only marginally successful. There are some settings that need to be modified in order for everything to work properly, but after a couple failed attempts, I was able to print a good piece. As I sit here typing this, my printer is connected to this computer and is working away on my third attempt at my second printed item. I did say there was a learning curve.

So how will I use my 3D printer in my architectural design business, I don't really know at this point. I envision being able to print 3 dimensional models for customers at some point. Or maybe I will just use it for helping to visualize design ideas. I am limited by the size of an object I can print, only about 7 inches cubed. I can possibly break a design into 2 or 3 sections, print them and then put them together.

Now that I have one, it turns out the operationally, they are pretty simple. Programmers have done all the hard work for us. Creating printable designs is also pretty easy as there are several free programs that you can download and create your own 3D objects. On top of that, there are literally thousands of 3D objects available for download on the Internet today!

I also wanted to get a 3D printer so that I could learn about and understand the technology. I also wanted my children to understand the technology and be able to use the printer for school and fun. 3D printing is going to change our world! People are already using them to print buildings! Google it and you will be amazed!

It is an amazing technology that is now available to pretty much anyone who has the desire. You will probably see some 3D models of my designs here in the near future.

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