Three years ago at CES, pundits of the 3D printing industry declared that everyone will have a 3D printer in their home in the near future. Since that time, manufacturers of these devices switched their R&D and marketing efforts to make more consumer-friendly printers. Just in the past year, 3D printers have vastly improved, boasting faster speeds and the ability to use a variety of new raw materials, including various plastics, steel, silver, brass, bronze, sandstone and ceramics.
Despite all of these changes, most of what we’ve seen from these devices are simple household models: soap dishes, ornaments and cup holders. That’s not all that’s out there, but it points to 3D printing’s biggest limitation, which is its inability to print complex machines and moving parts. If your aim is to create something with multiple parts, they must be printed one piece at a time and then assembled.
But even with its limitations, filmmakers have adopted this new technology to create some impressive imaging tools and accessories.
3D printing will also be indispensable in prototyping and design testing, enabling designers to get their finished products to market a lot faster and with presumably better quality. Such is the case with the iOgrapher (iographer.myshopify.com). David Basulto has been in video and film production in one form or another his entire life. Working as an actor in feature films, producing and now teaching production, Basulto has maintained a passion for the industry, with a particular interest in innovations that can improve workflow.
Recently, he found one of the best ways to teach his students the basics of production is by shooting video with the iPad. However, he was dissatisfied with the lack of mounts. What he really wanted was a simple rig with handles for handheld situations, and with shoe mounts for accessories such as lights and microphones. Additionally, he wanted to add lenses to the iPad’s camera, as well as have a 1⁄4-20 screw mount for mounting on a tripod.
After a few sketches, Basulto searched for a mechanical engineer, but couldn’t find one who would work with him for less than $5,000. Basulto happened to come by a website, www.shapeways.com, which is a 3D printing marketplace and community. There, he was able to find an engineer to create a file for a mere $200. He took that file, uploaded it to their website, and for another $200 he had a 3D printed, working prototype he was able to put on a tripod. Essentially, this was the very first iOgrapher.