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What is 3D Printing and Who Are The People Mainstreaming It?



Walking by a building that smells like sweet confections are being made inside would understandably surprise people if they found out that what was inside was most certainly not candy. The smell actually comes from polylactic acid filament during the process of three-dimensional printing, a cutting-edge technology that has been around for a few years now but is starting to become more mainstream in manufacturing, from commercial to personal use, according to The New York Post.

The so-called printers can take schematic designs made by humans and then mold an object into that reality, like an automated clay maker of sorts. While the technology can be very useful, such as being able to create mechanical parts relatively fast in place of having to go out and purchase the parts, but such a powerful and unregulated budding technology comes with its caveats, most notably 3D-printed guns, which can’t be traced or picked up by metal detectors. Entrepreneurs aren’t too worried about the drawbacks though and are excited for the technology to become more widespread and move into the public eye and become just as normal as laptops and smartphones.

“[We’re] really excited about giving everyone on earth the power to manufacture,” Jonathan Schwartz, co-founder and chief product officer of East Williamsburg-based Voodoo Manufacturing said. The factory features 200 robotically operated printers that can create pretty much any variety of household objects.

While the industry continues to grow and is proving it is a new technology that is here to stay, 3D printing is still very much in its infancy.

“The tools are growing faster than the consumers are aware of what they can do, like when the Internet first came out,” Will Haude said, who is the co-founder of 3D Brooklyn. “This is the infancy of 3D printing.”

It won’t come as too much of a surprise that most of the pioneers in this industry are those who grew up with the emerging technology of the 90s and beyond, all of the young guns who seem to have an edge on the older generations thanks to the generation gap.

“We grew up in the digital age, we’re accustomed to working with digital files and sharing, but we all want to make something,” Haude said. The 28-year-old designer even wears glasses that he made by using 3D printing.

“We’re tired of this purely digital age,” he said.

If you can dream it, it can pretty much be built, and even if what you draw up in your head doesn’t come to life within minutes, any number of visions can be sculpted into reality by 3D printing over the course of just a few hours.

Haude went into some detail about some of the sillier requests he’s seen, saying that they recently “received a shrimp from a courier that we needed to scan,” in order to make a plastic rendering of the shrimp that an artist requested.

“It smelled horrible when we opened it. It’s sitting in our fridge right now.”

By: Yiannis Hippman

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