Sunday, February 19, 2012

A great Example of 3D Printing and PopPop/Grandchildren Quality Time!

3D Printing has been around for a while for businesses.  These days, some shoe manufacturers won't manufacture a line of shoes until they've have shown the buyers of the bigger stores that shoe in a 3D model.  Here are two views of a sample that I saw on my visit to the 3D Systems headquarters.

Even standing right next to them, they appear to be made of leather with rubber soles.  It isn't until you pick one up that you realize this a 3D print.  They look that real.  It's very cool.

Now, that same technology is beginning to be available for consumers.  3D Systems will be selling a home 3D Printer that does single color printing.  But, they will also be offering the ability to print with the very same technology that created the shoes.  They've dubbed this "Printing in the Cloud".  You design the object you want printed.  Upload it to the 3D Systems "Cloud".  They print it and send it out to you.  This means 3D printing in a wide range of materials and unlimited colors.

But, we don't have to wait until 3D System's Cloud is fully functioning to experience what it will be like.  My Robot Nation premiered late last year.  I can tell you from experience that this is one fun web site with a great user experience from start to finish.  My granddaughters and I did the whole My Robot Nation experience together.  It was a collaborative effort.  I supplied the credit card and they supplied the designs!

It was amazing to see how easy and fun it was to design each robot.  The online user interface is excellent and very well organized.  You get to chose the parts for your robot and then color each part.  They even wrote their names on the back of their respective robots for a real customizing experience.

Once the order was placed, a series of emails tracked the progress of the robots through manufacturing and shipping.  But, it was just the fact that they communicated.  It was the enthusiastic wording that made me love their attitude toward their customers.  Each email extolled the awesomeness of that particular robot and they sent an image of the robot right out of the printer before shipping.

I think we enjoyed the emails as much as we enjoyed making them! 

Amazingly, the robots arrived in just 7 days.  We had ordered them on a Saturday and they arrived the following Friday.  Here they are in all their AWESOMENESS!!

My granddaughters have names that are NEVER on the cups, etc. in gift shops or toy stores.  But, this time they WERE able to buy an item having their name on it.  That is because they were able to do it themselves!

These robots were printed with the exact same materials and methods that create the shoes above.   By the way, some people actually created robots as cake toppers for their wedding!  While I think that's kind of cool, I don't think my wife would have been quite so thrilled with that idea.  But, it won't be long before we can create things like these with our own images and then I think she would see the value in that.  It's only going to get better!

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