Creativity can be unlocked in many different ways. You can craft stories, write poems, draw things, create an app, write codes, etc. But one of the latest addition to this long list of ways to unlock creativity is 3D printing.
3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing. In this form of manufacturing, objects are built layer by layer starting from the ground up. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard about it before, probably even saw videos of it in YouTube. Perhaps you even have a 3D printer at your home!
I was browsing Reddit when I stumbled upon a post about 3D printing. After reading it and reading people’s comments about it, I started to get curious. However, it’s not as easy as it looks so I had to do my assignment. I looked up about it online and read tons of articles and even books in my local library. Every day after work, I would open my laptop and browse different forums and websites, participating in any discussions that have something to do with 3D printing.
I learned that 3D printing is basically a step by step process:
- Create or obtain a 3D model.
- Convert the 3D model to STL format.
- Convert STL to G-code by using a slicer.
- Print the model from the G-code generated by the slicer from the STL file.
Good thing I already have a background in 3D modeling and this is where I can boost and unlock my creativity. In case you are wondering, yes, you can theoretically 3D print anything that comes into mind! All you have to do is to create the 3D model by using your favorite 3D modeling program, convert it to STL, then convert it to G-code and finally print it! And boy it feels really good to hold your virtually crafted model in the palm of your hands! And also, finally you can have non-tech savvy people see your magnificent computer-generated 3D sculpture work of art displayed in your living room. Now they will not ask about what you do the whole day locked up in your room in front of your computer. You can proudly tell them that you are a modern Michelangelo.
3D printing actually began in the 1980s. However, it was limited to industrial uses and costs literally hundreds of thousands of dollars per machine. After the patent for fused deposition modeling (FDM) expired (this is one of the most popular 3D printing technology), 3D printers slowly become available for home consumers with prices dropping from hundreds of thousands to hundreds of dollars. Today, many people have started their 3D printing hobby, including me.
Now back to me. After learning about 3D printing, I thought about how my creations can now be turned into a real-life object. I can create 3D fanarts of my favorite TV shows and use them as a decoration or print a keychain of unique design or even print fully customized, specially-made-for-you toys for my kids! This opened up a new vista to expand my creativity.
3D printing, however, is not just about turning my creations into reality. It can be applied in many different ways. In fact, it’s already applied in manufacturing, medicine, architecture, and custom art. Some people even use 3D printers to create more 3D printers!
Now I hear you asking. What about us who are not good in 3D modeling or art in general? Fear not. There are many websites out there where you can download ready to print or ready to convert 3D models. You can find a list of free 3d printing sites all over the internet.
Now you don’t have to worry about creating models of your own but try to learn 3D modeling. You can easily get started by downloading Blender, a free 3D modeling software.
As for the 3D printing machine itself, there are tons out there to choose from, prices at least $200. You’ll need filaments, they act as the “ink” for the 3D printer. There are many places where I buy filaments in Canada, but I make sure that they are compatible with my 3D printer and with my intended output.
Keep in mind when 3D printing that the slower the printing speed is, the higher the output quality of your final product.