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Amazing 3D Printing for Everyone

on Jul 30 2014 , 10:45:29

I recently got bitten by the bug for 3D printing. Over the last few years, 3D printing has been in my peripheral vision, but I never felt any connection to it.

I’m not a techie. I’m not a maker. I have no CAD experience whatsoever. I don’t even own a 3D printer. I am not a school age child, so frankly I felt left out of the whole “Maker Movement” thingy.

I should have dropped it a long time ago, but I continued to be plagued by the question, “how will you use it”?

In trying to find a viable application in 3D printing for photographers, I stumbled upon lithophanes. Lithophanes were popular in the 1800’s and look like engravings to the naked eye. The picture is only revealed when backlit. The craft of making fine lithophanes is pretty much a lost art, but thanks to the magical time machine of 3D printing they are seeing a resurgence.

I found a service online that would do the design & printing for me since at the time I had no knowledge of how to go about this. As to be expected, the first test was not exactly up to par. It was not what I saw in my mind’s eye. By the time I found a local designer on 3DHubs my attitude was that a 3D printed fine art quality lithophane cannot be made with today’s desktop printers and available materials.

Luckily, he consulted with me, and adjusted the STL file that I had been working with. So far, people have been blown away. It is quite beautiful in real life and leads me to think that future tests will yield even better results. After seeing this thing of beauty the designer and I were inspired to create an art exhibit around the 3D printed lithos, and use the exhibit as a springboard to evangelize 3D printing in my community.

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Don’t let anything stop you from jumping in head first. Use an online 3D printing service if you have to. You can send an STL file, and they do all of the printing for you. Here are just a few: i.materialize, Kraftwurx, Ponoko, Sculpteo, Shapeways.

In the case of hubs like makexyz and 3DHubs the printer may be close enough for pickup. This site will even do a price check for you and give you a rough estimate- 3dprintingpricecheck.com. Makerbot’s thingiverse.com is a great resource for beginners where you can find downloadable and customizable models. If you just have an idea and need a designer to create the model Staples, Office Depot, and UPS have design & printing services.

The moral of this story is that you don’t have to be a techie to make your 3D printing dreams come true. Along this quest, I have met some wonderful people who have all been eager to share their knowledge and support. The Maker Movement has a lot of pretty cool people. In my opinion, the success of this test exhibits the fact that we are living in an age where we have limitless power to create what we imagine. My hope is that we will be ethical and use this power to make a better world for all.

Here is a quick summary of the art exhibit and symposium I am working on that is all about 3D printing for photographers, artists, businesses, and everyday people.

This article was originally published here.

Somewhere at the crossroads of art and technology a photographer found her way into 3D printing.

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