3D printing is here, it's just not really all that pervasive yet. This may change soon enough now with the arrival of MakerBot's sub-$2K 3D printer. The home manufacturing contraption offers an endless range of possibilities for the extreme tech hobbyist: household gadgets, toys, home decor and more. Is this the future of DIY?
Imagine a place where you can go to download open models and plans for a handy spare part, children's toy, replacement chess piece, or iPhone case. That place exists today at Thingiverse.com. Where users and cutting-edge hobbyists share their 3d models to the public so they can print their designs on 3D printers such as a MakerBot replicator.
The MakerBot 3D printer uses a wax-like plastic resin that hardens; the resulting model is sandable and paintable. The consumer tech has only been around for a few months, but the enthusuiasm is already gaining steam. And as these units drop in price and become more affordable to the general public, we imagine a future when manufacturers simply send customers schematics to print directly from a 3D printer to replace that broken part, or bracket. This could also eventually evolve into an Etsy-like shop where you pay for a 3D file of a vase, sculpture, iPad stand or home decor element that you simply print at home.
We're excited to see where this goes, and if you're curious but don't want to spend money on the printer there are services out now that'll print the item for you. such as i.Materialise.
Check out this fun video of a fingerboard skateboard made with 3D printed pieces from Makerbot.
It's an interesting future indeed, and we'll leave you with a gallery of useful 3D models you can find on Thingiverse today - giving you a sample of what this technology can already do in its infancy.
(Images: 1. MakerBot 2. Makerbot 3. MikeQ from Thingiverse 4. cc203a from Thingiverse 5. Makerbot from Thingiverse 6. PropellerScience from Thingiverse 7. MangoT21 from Thingiverse 8. Madsci1016 from Thingiverse 9. Oblomobka from Thingiverse 10. Minifacture from Thingiverse)