What can I do with a 3D printer?

View of the 3d Printer Farm

View of 3d Printer Farm at 2013 Akron Mini Maker Faire

If you spend any time browsing tech sites such as TechCrunch or Engadget, or even spend any time on Facebook, you have probably seen articles about 3D printing and wonder what you could do with a 3D printer.  Perhaps you even considered becoming a maker of 3D objects at our Mini Maker Faire.  Well, wonder no more; let your imagination run wild.

The Library’s Science & Technology blog blogged before about innovations made possible with a 3D printer in  “3D-printed skull has been successfully implanted,”   3D printing with stem cells could lead to printable organs, and Printing in the Third Dimension.  Now we would like to highlight three new concepts in the world of 3D printing: “Artist 3D-Prints City-Shaped Shells For Hermit Crabs.”  Although we aren’t sure a plastic shell would be healthy for the hermit crab, the shells created by Aki Inomata are simply gorgeous, and the hermit crabs were eager to adopt them as their new homes.   Then there is “Disney Conquers Physics, Uses 3D Printing to Create Impossible Spinning Tops.”  This research project combines 3D printing with physics and made just about any shape they tried spin, and spin well.  The pdf of the Disney project can be found here.  Finally, a team of researchers at Harvard have designed a crawling robot that assembles itself that could be created by a 3D printer.  This article can be found in the August 8, 2014 issue of the journal Science, page 623 “Folding Structures out of Flat Materials,” by Z. You.  Check out the video on  Science Shot.

Take a look at these books on 3D printing to get more ideas:

Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing by Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman.



3D Modeling and Printing with Tinkercad: Create and Print Your Own 3D Models by James Floyd Kelly. Yes, we told you about this book before, but you really should take a look at it if 3-d printing is in your future.



Make: 3D Printing.




The Library’s 3d printer in action earlier this year

You can visit the tinkercad website to download the program and experiment with its features.

While you’re at it, you might want to see the display of 3D objects created in our Technology Center on the first floor at Main Library.


2 Responses to What can I do with a 3D printer?

  1. Here is another use for 3D printed objects. Here is “Robotic Raptors to the Rescue” from Audubon Magazine.

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