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If you have something you need 'brought to life' by 3D printing - whether it's a napkin doodle, a custom-fit part you can't find anywhere else, a prototype for something you're working on, or just something cool like a phone case, bracelet or sculpture - contact us and we can help make your idea a reality.

What is 3D printing?

A brief explanation of this emerging technology

"3D printing" is a hot phrase lately, but few know what it actually is. Sometimes referred to as "additive manufacturing" or "rapid prototyping," 3D printing is a process by which 3D objects are made by compiling material, rather than the usual method of "subtractive manufacturing" (molding, etching, engraving or otherwise cutting away material to achieve the design).

A 3D printer consists of a bed on which the object is built and one or more extruders, which extrude the medium with which the object is being built (ABS or PLA plastics, metal, etc.). Material is fed into the extruder which deposits the material onto the bed microns at a time (read: very thin). Layer by layer, the object is built until finally the finished, tangible 3D object is finished. Don't know what a micron is? Learn more about it here.

Some 3D printers print with plastics, some with metals, and some even print foods with materials such as chocolate or other edible compounds. NASA is currently investing in technology to make full-fledged food "replicators" a la Star Trek® on which space-faring astronauts can prepare their meals. Architects currently utilize the benefits of 3D printing to prototype their designs; however, research is being done to create 3D printers capable of printing entire life-size houses. On a smaller scale, 3D printing is emerging on the fashion front as the newest craze, thanks in part to Lady Gaga and Victoria's Secret.

Surprisingly enough, 3D printing has been around for longer than the digital press (think Kinko's® color copies), but it is only just beginning to become a commonly-known technology.