One employee received a 3D printer for his birthday last year; since then, he’s been printing custom products to make his life easier.
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, creates three-dimensional components from CAD models. Digital blueprints can be found on the internet either for free or purchased. 3D printing involves layering materials, like plastics, to create objects that range in size, shape, rigidity, and color.
The plastics or filament come in spools of different colors. Once ready to print, the machine heats the filament and lays it in place layer by layer.
There are various use cases for 3D printing: printing replacement parts or custom parts, model making, prosthetics, sculptures, and more.
Most recently, one employee printed laptop stands for the development team in the Las Vegas office. The laptop stands allowed team members to use their laptops as a second (or third) screen and contributed to improved workstation ergonomics. He’s also printed customized hooks for his workspace and desktop organizers.
Typically, he customizes blueprints to fit his needs. The printer takes a few days to print out larger pieces.
One employee has automated all the lighting in his home office. As a fan of retrofitting traditional technology to create custom automations for his home, he built custom software to control the lighting in his office. The ceiling light is controlled by sending a signal from his computer to a WiFi-enabled microcontroller. The microcontroller activates a servo to flip the wall switch turning the ceiling light on and off.
At the beginning of the pandemic, he printed face shields for his colleagues in the medical and emergency services until proper PPE could be distributed.
3D printing is finding many more uses. But you don’t have to own your own printer. There are a growing number of online businesses that offer 3D printing services.
Check out thingiverse.com to sample the wide variety of blueprints available from baby Yoda electromechanical switch to shoes.