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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Take Family Fun to a Whole New Dimension

Nov 21, 2014 12:16PM

There is no greater gift than a gift that keeps on giving.

Three-dimensional printers are the future of personal manufacturing, allowing anyone to develop and produce nearly any three-dimensional object from his or her desktop. Make a doll or your own personalized Legos for your child; the possibilities are endless and only limited to your imagination. So give a gift this holiday season that allows someone to make something extraordinary. 

There are six types of 3D printers available on the market but the most common for personal use are fused filament fabrication (FFF) printers. Fused filament fabrication heats up a plastic cord and squeezes it through a nozzle to create flat pieces that are layered in a pattern over and over on top of each other until it makes a three-dimensional object. When the plastic hardens, you have your masterpiece. 

When buying a 3D printer, be aware of the following things: 

  1. Printer’s building space: The printer’s building space is where your three-dimensional objects are built. If you want to make larger objects, then you need a larger building space. 
  2. Quality of printing: Each 3D FFF printer has different types and sizes of nozzles that create a rough or smooth three-dimensional object. 
  3. Software: Some 3D printers come with their own proprietary software where others use an open-based software. Getting to know the software prior to purchase is always recommended, and it makes the whole 3D printing experience a lot more easy and fun. 
  4. Operating System: The typical interface with a 3D printer is through a computer and some 3D printers are compatible with certain operating systems. Before you purchase a 3D printer make sure to find out if it can work with your computer. 
  5. Pricing: The price of a personal 3D printer can vary. Typically price varies based on the speed of printing, the building space, quality of printing, quantity of colors that can be printed simultaneously, and the type of material being used to print. 
Pirate 3D - Buccaneer