3D Printing at Your Fingertips

We are reading more and more about 3D printing. As the technology becomes more prevalent, scalable, and affordable, 3D printing of items with biodegradable plastic will become more regularized. The possibilities seem endless.

In California, architects Smith|Allen have created what they claim is the first first inhabitable structure to be produced on standard 3D printers. Dezeen has a timelapse video of the installation here.

The 10-by-10-by-8-foot structure, which took two months to print, consists of more than 500 snap-together parts that were produced by seven 3D printers. Assembled this month in a redwood forest in Mendocino County, California, the structure was designed to mimic and abstract the structural skin of sequoia trees. The architects say the biodegradable parts will gradually decompose over the coming years….

But 3D printing will likely be more prevalent initially at smaller scales than a building. Think things you can hold in your hand. On a recent trip to Chicago, I visited the 3D Printer Experience, located in a storefront at 316 N. Clark Street, just north of the Chicago River and just a couple blocks east of the Merchandise Mart. The shop’s interior was designed by the husband-and-wife team of Lisa and Ron Elkins, whose Chicago firm 2 Point Perspective is focused on sustainable design of commercial and residential projects.


Inside the 3D Printer Experience in Chicago. Photo courtesy urbandaddy.com

The 3D Printer Experience has more than 20 3D printers, and basically anyone can have an item printed for either personal or business uses. The shop reports strong business with inventors and product designers, who come in with drawings and leave with a 3D prototype of their designs. But the public is welcome too: you can even have your head scanned and have a bust of your own head printed! Also, the shop has designers in-house to 3D model your ideas. Here is an instagram of a 3D printer in action.

Learn more about the 3D Printer Experience, which opened earlier this year, in this video.

3D printing technology will dramatically alter our lives. This shop in Chicago is offering a glimpse of the possibilities.


Some of the items that have been printed with 3D printers, on display at the 3D Printer Experience.



A skull that was 3D printed and designed by Joshua Harker.



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