Most of us have probably heard of 3D printers, which literally allow you to create an object out of thin air. Much like a regular inkjet printer, you first program it, telling it exactly what it is you want it to print (many of them will come with pre-programmed designs). After you make your selection, you just let it go to work. Nifty, eh?
Due to its usefulness and malleability, 3D printing is becoming a booming industry, and many companies are looking to take advantage of this new technology to create awesome customized products.
While you can get a 3D printer of your own for about the cost of a new computer, it might behoove you to start a little smaller. This is where the 3D pen comes in. The 3D pen first gained some recognition thanks to the emergence of the “3Doodler” and its associated Kickstarter campaign.
As you might imagine, the folks designing the 3Doodler got a lot of monetary support from folks, and thus the 3D pen became something of a hit. While many use them to do some simple doodling (creating cubes and the like), others choose to make intricate works of art. One company, SHIGO, decided to take this kind of creativity to the next level by using a 3Doodler to create a beautiful partially 3D printed dress, which is pictured above.
In order to accomplish this rather amazing feat, they first created a cloth outline of the dress. Then, artists used a 3Doodler to trace this outline, effectively bringing a 2D template to life.
For those who don’t know how a 3D pen works, it’s basically like a safer version of a hot glue gun, in the sense that it’s filled with a plastic based cartridge that melts and allows you to redistribute the material in any manner that you desire. As you might imagine, it takes a steady hand to ensure that all of this melted plastic doesn’t get all over the place, which is why SHIGO enlisted the help of actual artists and designers to get the 3D dress printed correctly.
Indeed, as one article notes, all it takes is for you to release just a little bit too much plastic to ruin what would be an otherwise amazing creation.
What is the significance of the 3D pen? Well, in my estimation, it is indicative of a trend toward people being able to customize things exactly how they want them. In the future, perhaps we will all have 3D pens and printers of our own. Like SHIGO, we might decide one morning to design a shirt for ourselves. Or perhaps even a pair of shoes. Or maybe a case for our phones. The possibilities really are endless.
Indeed, SHIGO’s efforts reveal how one day fashion might revolve around day-to-day user-creativity rather than today’s fleeting fads. I mean, if you happen to be artistically inclined, why wouldn’t you choose to personally draw out some of the things you wear? Perhaps they won’t be perfect, but they would be unique, which has its own charm.
If we are thinking big picture, it wouldn’t be totally out there to say that 3D pens and 3D printing in general are setting the stage for something even bigger. Why stop at dresses and small products? Perhaps one day we will be printing cars, planes, TVs – you name it.
That is what I think is the main takeaway here. 3D printing will become even more impactful than it is now once we figure out a way to use it on a much larger scale. The benefits to say, a 3D printer that prints cars, would be enormous. Not only would it cut down on production times, but it would reduce manufacturing mishaps since there would be far fewer moving parts involved.
Anyways, perhaps I am getting ahead of myself. For now, let’s appreciate the work of the folks over at SHIGO, and thank them for taking some of the first steps into what will assuredly be an intriguing future for 3D printing.
Featured photo credit: 3D dress/ Fabbaloo via fabbaloo.com