People often talk about what 3D printers will do for volume manufacturing. But in some ways the biggest impact will be on the one-off, custom made items. I just experienced an early version of that by designing and building my own little monster! Here is the original Kickstarter project:
And now they have a website:
The provide a free iPhone application for designing your monster. You start with a blank monster:
Then you start picking basic "features" of the monster: body color, ears, hands, feet, accessories, etc. As you select each item it allows you to view them in 3D.
When you're happy with what you've created, you hit "print" and wait. The've partnered with Shapeways print it out on their high-end 3D printer and send it to you. It took me about a week to get it. While you're waiting you can interact with the monster on the iPhone app (joy!). Here is the design I came up with:
And here is what the result looks like:
The model has nice details and a good weight. It was printed on a SLS printer, so it has a "sandy" finish. The colors are crisp, but there are a few areas of "bleed". They emailed a notice that there were color issues with this batch, so I can order a replacement if I wanted. Overall I am very pleased with the result.
The possibilities of this whole process are pretty amazing. I really believe we are at the cusp of a whole new era in design and individuality!