Page 11 - Upper Peninsula Business Today -- January 2018
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How 3d Printing Is Changing The Craft
The technology behind 3D printing has changed the world in various ways. Such tech- nology has impacted scientific discovery and contributed to advancements in medicine.
Three-dimension printing has also influenced how many people, including crafts enthusiasts, approach their favorite hobbies. Crafting enthu- siasts already are seeing the myriad designs and possibilities available with 3D printing that have appeared on pop-
ular crafting and retail sites like Pinterest and Etsy. While 3D printing may not feel like the craft- ing of yesteryear, it can require the same intricacy and skill as other forms of art.
"It [3D printing] takes the lid off of what's possible, and provides a really good bridge between technology and hands-on crafting," said Andrej Suskavcevic, president and CEO of the Craft and Hobby Association in Elmwood Park, New Jersey.
While there has always been a marriage of sorts between art and science, 3D printing takes that relationship even further and can be even more relevant in a world now being shaped by a focus on STEM.
The 3D printing process starts with a virtual design of the object to be made, which serves as
a blueprint, or a computer aided design, or CAD, file. The CAD file is made using a 3D modeling application or with a scanner that will copy an existing object into a digital format. The model is then divided into hundreds or thou- sands of horizontal layers utilizing slicing soft- ware in a process commonly referred to as "slic- ing." The slices are read by the printer and are recreated, layer by layer, so that a 3D object is
ultimately formed. The printing media can be any num- ber of materials. Plastic resins, metal, plastic fila- ments, and other substances are used, depending on the printer.
Desktop printers can now produce figurines, small gears, doll parts, mobile phone covers - just about anything a person's imagination can dream up. Hobbyists can explore the depths of their design abilities and produce finished mate- rials in real time.
Those who need a little help finding inspira- tion need only go online for do-it-yourself proj- ect ideas and tutorials on how to get started with 3D printing. While many at-home 3D printers don't produce high-quality pieces, the technol- ogy is changing and there are companies that will print 3D artwork or objects for a fee.
"It [3D printing] takes the lid off of what's possible, and provides a
really good bridge between technology and hands-on crafting,"

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