Chicago 3D Printing Shop Opens for Business

3D printing is coming to a city near you.

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Barry Brecheisen

The constant buzz surrounding 3D printer technology is finally making its way into the mainstream and a new company in Chicago is welcoming consumers to try out the revolutionary concept firsthand. The 3D Printing Experience, a new space that opened in Chicago Monday, is educating the public on how the technology works by offering a chance to watch or experience the printing process.

Customers can have their head scanned and replicated in a 3D portrait, create jewelry or smaller objects like iPhone cases, and can request custom printed items. The setup includes around 20 printers, including an industrial grade printer that co-founder Julie Freidman Steele tells TIME is the first of its kind available for public access. Most industrial 3D printers are typically not available for retail use. The industrial grade printer runs about a quarter of a million dollars, while other printers in use include smaller mini printers that are available for purchase for about $1,000 as well as the MakerBot machines, which run around $1,800 to $2,400.

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Barry Brecheisen

(MORE: Getting Mainstreamier: SkyMall Is Selling a 3D Printer)

“We’re trying to create that mass adoption of manufacturing to bring it back to the United States and to anyone, for that matter, anywhere in the world,” Steele says.

Printing costs around the $20 mark, but customers are welcome to play around and design objects for free. Though the space has only been open a few days, Steele says she’s already printed a violin and as well as a prototype for a inexpensive water filter for people in Haiti to use in investment meetings. “What’s really unique is we have no inventory,” Steele says. “We can print anything on the spot.”

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Barry Brecheisen

The company also runs workshops every evening, ranging from introductions to scanning as well as creating 3D objects such as iPhone cases. Customers can also score $100 worth of 3D printing by completing “quest cards,” or VIP cards that entail learning about the different processes involved, such as the different materials 3D printing uses.

“You can talk about 3D printing but unless you have an intimate experience with the technology it’s really hard to understand,” Steele says. “So we try to make sure everyone has an experience.”

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Barry Brecheisen

With an increasing independent workforce, Steele says it’s important to educate the public in 3D printing and manufacturing their own things. She said there’s no immediate plans to open a space in other cities, but is open to working with social entrepreneurs to do so.

“We had a lawyer, an engineer, an artist, someone from the inner city and a young kid all talking about 3D printing where they would otherwise never get to come together,” Steele said of the opening. “They were all on the same level. It’s really neat to see how the playing field is completely even.”

WATCHMake Your Own Products: 3D Printing Reaches Consumers

8 comments
DavidBigpict1
DavidBigpict1

David Johanson Vasquez • An advisory committee I serve on for Mountlake Terrace HS, a (STEM magnet school) in Edmonds School District, has extensively used a 3D printer for the past two years. Last week, MLTHS recieved an advance portable wind-tunnel, which will allow students to design intricate pressure ports into wing designs using their 3D printer. Boeing's head engineer at their transonic wind-tunnel in Seattle, has volunteered to help develop a curriculum for the pre-engineering program. The 3D printer is definitely popular with students using it for their projects & is certainly contributing to the success of the program.

LuisE.Rodriguez
LuisE.Rodriguez

To advance 3D printing please stay with open source printers. Why only Makerbot and Up!? 

Read more: http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/04/26/chicago-3d-printing-shop-opens-for-business/#ixzz2RsXkLMbx

MetaJulie1
MetaJulie1

@LuisE.Rodriguez  We are open to discussing any enclosed printer that uses open source filament. Do you have one in mind you would like us to try out? 

LuisE.Rodriguez
LuisE.Rodriguez like.author.displayName 1 Like

@MetaJulie1 @LuisE.Rodriguez I am now in love with Ultimaker. They have been steady since 2010 and still printing beautiful prints. I don't even flinch at .05mm layer heights. it just simple works. I use Printbl.com plastic (reseller of diamond-age plastics) Ultimaker was born from the RepRap movement and Diamond Age plastics is from Vik Oliver, one of the fathers of the RepRap movement. it doesn't get more open than that. I would be happy to connect you to the Ultimaker team. lrodriguezmail [at] gmail [dot] com They really do deserve the attention.

MetaJulie1
MetaJulie1 like.author.displayName 1 Like

To advance 3D printing please stay with open source filament. 

Joshua4kner
Joshua4kner

@MetaJulie1@MetaJulie1 Hello Julie, your store looks outstanding.

 I am interested in talking with you, I have so many questions for you and your team.

 If you are open to questions my contact information is below. 

Looking forward to hearing back from you.

Thank you,

Josh

josh@4kner.com