Week 2: Creating in 3D

When I first heard of 3D printing, it was featured in one of those eyebrow-raising headlines that you’ll never hear of again. Fast forward to this semester, surrounded by the digital making community the past two weeks, and the current state of 3D printing technology seems futuristic. Furniture, organs, guns, and even houses all digitally printed layer by layer. Printing complex products without the need for individual parts is a monumental shift in the manufacturing process. This is why 3D printing is being called the third industrial revolution by some people. I don’t understand how these milestones have been happening under my nose. Owning the means of production used to be a privilege reserved for the rich, but now everyone can print from their home with this technology. The consumer’s changing relationship with traditional manufacturing is fueling the maker movement.

In the Maker Mindset reading, Dale Dougherty states that “makers are inspired by others.” Designing concept ideas and sharing them with others has slowly helped the movement gain steam. People are able to redesign concepts and tweak them to their liking. For example, you could print a customized sofa for your living room that filled the perfect amount of space. This digital making movement is as much about manufacturing as it is about art. It’s an extension of the inner human desire to create.

Although 3D printing has stayed under my radar, I discovered it through the education movement pushing it.  Dougherty’s reading states that real learning occurs while students are at play, which in this case is creating. Community 3D printing centers are being built all over the world so kids can have more control over their ideas. I believe in this learning philosophy because curriculum can sometimes feel rigid.

I had lots of fun looking at the Spaceway marketplace for 3D printed products with my groupmates. Sharing the funny, useful, or simply random products definitely sparked some project ideas for later in the semester. 4 Notable mentions included:

Universal Chopsticks Helper T2

As a Chinese restaurant goer, I liked this idea. The chopsticks could be customized to fit your grip.

iPhone 6/6S Wahoo Mount Case – Hill Climb 

It’s annoying to continuously get your phone out to change the music or for directions while biking. A phone mount for the center of your handlebars is a handy gadget and safer alternative for bikers. The mount could customize the mount to fit any bike.

Bitcoin Cufflinks

What screams “I’m a millennial” louder than 3D printed Bitcoin cufflinks? Jokes aside, the 3D printed fashion options for men’s belts and cuff links weren’t bad. Maybe one day I’ll be wearing a belt buckle and cuff link I made myself.

Bugle For iPhone 5

This is one of my favorite products because it’s a simple, yet creative solution to someone’s problem: their iPhone wasn’t loud enough. You don’t need to be a physicist paid by a corporation to explore cutting-edge acoustic quality research to develop your own product. Testing 3D printed prototypes is inexpensive compared to current mainstream manufacturing. Although the item pictured above is a crude amplifier, it shows that anyone can be an engineer.


My name is Michael and feel free to comment or read my future posts, I’ll be here all semester.


One thought on “Week 2: Creating in 3D”

  1. I love the chopsticks holder! I only learned how to use chopsticks when I came to college, and I feel like I still don’t use them properly. I think that would be a really fun tool to have. I, too, heard of 3D printing and thought it was something I would do or have access to so it is really exciting for me to be in this class and 3D print my very own ideas.

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