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March 21, 2014

3D Printing- A Beginners Guide

By Ryan Loebe | AZ Tech Beat

3D printing is not a future technology, but rather a present and predominant one. The 3D printing industry has boomed over the last few years, especially in the Valley, garnering most of its appeal from the Do It Yourself (DIY) market. It is now easier than ever to conceptualize, design, and produce a 3D printed object.

If you are interested in 3D printing but don’t know where to start, and the materials, machines, and software for 3D printers seem extremely technological, don’t worry, with leading experts and easy-to-use tools, you’ll be printing in no time.

AZ Tech Beat recently sat down with 3D printing expert Jesse Harrington to chat about all things 3D. Harrington is a Maker Advocate from Autodesk in partnership with TechShop.

A beginner should start with visiting a local shop to gain knowledge of the 3D printing process, Harrington says. TechShop Chandler, located within the ASU Chandler Innovation Center, is a great start for a beginner wanting to become a 3D printing expert. TechShop Chandler offers a community-based workshop and prototyping studio with millions of dollars worth of cutting-edge equipment. Members pay a monthly fee to use the facility’s equipment and also have the option to attend tutorial classes and sessions, explaining tips and tricks on everything 3D printing.

Harrington, explains that it is, “always good to come in and take the Inventor 101 course.” This course, free to all members, lays out the basics and principles of computer-aided design (CAD) and prepares you for the 3D printing course; both of these courses can be completed in one day with a total of two hours of session time. How awesome is that?

TechShop Chandler also offers courses in arts and crafts, Autodesk, CNC (computer numerical control), computers, electronics, fabrication, laser cutting, machining, metal shop, rapid prototyping, textiles, welding/hotshop, and woodshop.

Harrington gave us his suggested list of 3D printers including MakerBotFormLabsType A Machines and PrintrBot as the best options for beginners. TechShop Chandler currently has MakerBot and Type A Machines in house and a range of materials that can be used in the 3D printing process.

Looking to the future, Harrington believes that the medical industry will be one of the biggest users of 3D printers and create medical instruments and tools, even prosthetics. Harrington also adds that utilizing 3D printers to make jewelry and clothing is the next big DIY phenomenon.

3D printed tracheal split

3D printed tracheal split

“3D printing is a new language. Sometimes it takes awhile for things to click. It is easy and a life changer,” said Harrington.

Around the Valley several 3D printing shops have sprouted due to the increasing demand for 3D printed services and products-check out TechShop ChandlerPhoenix Analysis and Design TechnologiesACME 3D Printing ServicesThomas Reprographics, and Gangplank.

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