3D Printing

3D printing is the future.. That Star Trek-like ability to create something out of nothing, has always fascinated me.

Except the future is now.

3D printing has been around for decades, under the not-so-sexy guise of Additive Manufacturing, used predominantly for prototyping, industrial tools and architecture. The technology has been nearing consumer reach for some time now, and in the past few years several “desktop” models have been released by companies such as Stratasys, Formlabs and Makerware.

The 3D Print Cup

A few months ago, cartridgesave.co.uk launched the 3D Print Cup, a call out to the cream of the north west’s design talent, to design an original 3D character. What wasn’t expected was for the competition to outgrow the north west and entries to be received from places such as Austria, USA and South America!

The concept was simple really, designers, whether working for agencies, freelancers, students or just hobbyists, would submit a 3D render of an original character they’d created. The wackier the better. cartridgesave.co.uk painstakingly printed out all of the 30+ entries (normally taking about 4 hours a print) and they’d return the entries to the original designers for them to finish off and decorate.

The finished entries were amazing… It was clear to see that so much time, love and care had been put into each character, which inspired me to try my hand at 3D design. The best thing about this industry is that its so inclusive, everyone is trying to help others to learn the skills and understand 3D printing better. The more people that understand it, the more attention it receives  which brings down prices. A top of the range 3D printer costs £2,000 in the UK, which in the next five years should come down to more accessible levels.

For anyone even considering giving it a go, it’s worth a try. With plenty of YouTube tutorials demonstrating tools such as Blender and Sketchup, it’s easy to get the basics… In two evenings, even with my limited capabilities, I was able to design a the exterior of a house!

We took all the entries on a little tour of Manchester’s hotspots… Which is your favourite?

The 3Ders take Museum of FootballThe 3Ders take Exchange Square