One of the fun things about 3D printing is being able to go from a rough idea to a finished looking physical object really quickly, and with great fidelity.
I recently worked with my 5 year old son on a fun project. He'd drawn two pictures he was really proud of, superhero costumes for him and his friends. He wanted me to make them real, so I gave it a shot.
A key part of this process was understanding what parts of the design really mattered to him. He was very insistent about the helmet shapes, the colors, the lights on the shoes and the number of fingers on the hands, which he'd put a lot of work into.
I modeled the helmets in OpenSCAD, which let me easily separate parts of the model for printing in different colors. I used some parts from the Tinkerplay app for the body and limbs, but I created the hands from scratch.
The final results are very close to original sketch - certainly recognizable! My son's insistence on hands with separate fingers really paid off - the new hands are so big that that the figures can balance on them. I enjoyed how original the designs are: as a friend of mine said, they don't look like any other superheros or toys.
Is this the future of toys? For at least one 5 year old, this is what toys are like NOW!
I've spent the past 5 years building 3D printers and using them to make things. In the process, I've found a new career, and learned a lot about what 3D printing can do, and what its potential is. I like to say that in this sense I'm living a few years in the future: 3D printing is working well enough for me that it is part of my day-to-day life. From my perspective living in the near future, I'd like to share some of the key things I've learned, and what it implies going forward.
But first, here's how I got here:
In 2008 I was living in New York, and a member of a hackerspace called NYC Resistor, which was founded by Bre Pettis, and was the birthplace of Makerbot. I saw the team working on the earliest Makerbots, and I found it really inspiring and exciting.