Last week, my husband worked up the courage to announce that he bought a 3D printer with the help of a friend. A few days later, he was at our house and installed in the living room next to the sofa.
3D printing has been around in concept since 1945 and in primitive practice since 1971. Consumer interest grew throughout the 2010s and now 3D printing is affecting nearly every industry and printers are both in businesses and homes.
Everything from movie props and clothing to food, living tissue and organ parts can now be 3D printed. The ability to print living tissues and organs allows the medical community to directly test human tissues and organs without testing them on animals.
Our first impression was a catfight helmet.
The cat helmets take about two hours to print, so we had time to kill while the new robot to join our house did its thing. Throughout the afternoon, I sat and watched my husband walk back and forth to the printer, hovering above it like a pot waiting to boil.
At one point I looked and the kid had brought all the other kids in the neighborhood inside. They were all hunched over the computer with my husband, browsing websites for 3D printer designs. The next hour was spent adding things like Minecraft swords, cat-shaped pencil holders, and Transformers figures to the list of “future impressions.”
It all sounds like a wasteful afternoon, but I like to think of it as our own version of STEM learning. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) has grown to represent a unique approach to teaching and learning.
It’s not just for the younger generation in Silicon Valley.
In central Alberta, places like Central Alberta Maker Space allow you to learn and explore with others who are just as excited about printing a cat helmet as you are. They share their current projects and membership on their Facebook page, facebook.com/CentralAlbertaMakerSpace.
If you are a solo scientist, the Mary C. Moore Public Library offers an electronic equipment and maker space loan service. The equipment is available for three-week loan periods to all current members of the Lacombe and Lacombe County Library. For more information, visit lacombelibrary.com/makerspace.
I’m sure this bad printer will work constantly for the next few weeks until we upgrade or it catches fire from not cooling down.