Makers don’t get the credit they deserve. When it comes to innovation, history highlights the famous inventors, such as Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers. What is rarely mentioned, though, is the time they spent in their workshops making prototypes. They weren’t paid for that time, and no one knew about them or their work. Until a great invention, they were viewed as amateurs or hobbyists.
You can bet that when they started, most inventors didn’t own the latest technology or the best tools. Lacking technology and superior tools is a common problem for hobbyists. They have the ideas, but they don’t have the right tools or machines to bring their ideas to life.
Not so long ago it was difficult to progress beyond basic kits and plans because parts were expensive. Furthermore, the machinery required was hard to locate or too expensive to justify buying it. Often critical information wasn’t available to the average DIYer.
Today, though, with the rapid innovation and the availability of 3D printing for hobbyists, it’s possible for almost any person to design and produce ideas they’ve had floating around in their head. 3D prints take the hobbyist maker, the avid DIYer, and the independent designer to the next level. Today’s 3D printers allow them to collaborate to produce prototypes or finished versions of objects that are every bit as professional looking and functional as prototypes developed by professional manufacturers.
This is a great time to be part of the maker community. The community is strong, technology is far more accessible to hobbyists, collaboration across the world is possible in ways earlier generations never dreamed of, and the internet provides the perfect forum to showcase creations and ideas.
What Hobbyists Can Do With 3D Printing
Here are just a few of the ways hobbyists can use a 3D printer to take a hobby to the next level.
Rapid Development of Ideas
3D printing allows hobbyists to go from the design phase to producing a prototype in the same day. Many of us have experienced creating an idea, drawing it out, designing it in an app, and then waiting for days or weeks before we get a prototype.
Imagine being able to take your idea, put it into your computer, and in a matter of minutes have the actual object in your hand.
Replacing Small or Hard-to-find Pieces
Repairing small broken parts is always a hassle, especially if it took you a while to handcraft the part. Now, you can load the design for a replacement part into your computer and print out a replacement.
Test Your Designs for Strength and Function
Test your designs repeatedly until they are what you want. Drawings and 3D modeling are great, but they don’t show you possible production problems.
With a prototype, though, you might take a look at your design and think, “Oh, this will break here. It’s too weak.” Instead of guessing you might have a problem with your design, you can 3D print your prototype and test it.
You’ll save time by not making unnecessary changes. Or, you may find hidden design flaws and fix them before you take the next steps. This is the power of being able to produce, examine and test your ideas with a 3D printer.
Real Time Production For Teams and Client Approval
If you are part of a maker team, or you produce items for clients, 3D printing allows you to sit and work on the design together. Once it’s complete, you can print out the prototype, make any desired changes, then print out the new prototype!
You can repeat this process as often as you need to: produce a prototype, make decisions by looking at the actual item (not a drawing) then revise your design and produce a new prototype.
Replace Obsolete Parts
Most hobbyists know the frustration of having a small item or part of an obsolete machine or appliance break. You can spend hours, even days, searching on the internet for a replacement piece.
With today’s 3D printing technology, it’s possible to create a new part and print it out. This is a fantastic benefit for people who use older tools as part of their hobby.
What You Need To Know To Get The Most Out of Your 3D Printer
Before you purchase your 3D printer, you should have a few things in order.
- First, consider how you will use your 3D printer. If you are going to make smaller objects, you can get a smaller machine. Of course, once you learn about the versatility and power of a 3D printer, like many makers before you, you may want a larger machine.
- Second, get familiar with 3D modeling programs. This isn’t as hard as it sounds. There are plenty of free 3D design and modeling programs available for download on the internet. Choose the one you are most comfortable with and learn how to use it.
- Third, and this is the most fun, go back through some of your old ideas and rework them. Like any other new tool, you’ll be excited to use your 3D printer right away. Instead of spending time making a new design, take an old idea and produce it. It’s a great feeling when you produce something that has been sitting in your notebook for years.
Oh, and if you are aren’t keeping a notebook, start.
Here’s The Experience of a Hobbyists Who’s Been There
James Beswick is an RC car enthusiast from the UK. He built the world’s fastest model RC car. He used his personal 3D printer to make key parts of the car, and in this video he talks about how he did it.
“The main benefit is, I can create shapes with a printer that you cannot create easily with any other means.” ~ James Beswick
James is passionate about his hobby, and now he uses the latest technology to enhance his experience.
We re 3D Universe, and we’re passionate about 3D printing and all it holds for hobbyists. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. We’re here to help you take your passion for making to the next level.
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