Over the last few months, we have become a bit more aware of the concept of 3D printing, mainly due to local companies and schools brilliantly fulfilling an urgent need for visors for local NHS, charities and care homes during the current pandemic. One of those companies was 3D Print Cheshire, based in Tytherington. We asked Tim Parkinson of 3D Print Cheshire to tell us a bit more about it.
“So you have heard of it but … what actually is it, what can you
do with it and how can it help you?
What is it?
3D printing is an innovative technology that lets you create a physical object from a digital model. All you need to do is make a design and transfer the file to a 3D printer. A 3D printer then essentially by extruding (usually) molten plastic through a tiny nozzle that it moves around precisely under computer control. It prints one layer, waits for it to dry and then prints the next later on top. The simplest way to describe it would be to think of the process of using an icing bag to squeeze icing out to build up layers to make a 3D design – except the icing is plastic!
How can it help you?
For people at home it can help you by being able to produce replacement parts for cars, machines, home appliances, parts that are no longer available or something completely bespoke where you need something that has not been done before. Business people can use it for quickly producing prototypes for their design before getting it made in large quantities or for short run manufacture of items that would cost thousands of pounds to make if you had to mould them. We have been able to turn around a design to having the item in use with the customer on the very same day!
We can also help small businesses get their sketch of an idea to being a physical entity in as little as a couple of days. As we are a local company based in Tytherington, Rus or I are always free for a chat about projects.
We are also offering discounts for people who have found us via Local People magazine, check out www.3dprintcheshire.co.uk/localpeople.”
What can you do with it?
Pretty much anything! We have designed everything from a replacement clip for a parasol to a complete 3D printed model railway. There is a huge database of free designs and spare parts on sites like thingiverse.com that you can just download. It can be used to manufacture moulds for making jewellery and even the jewellery itself. It is also becoming popular in the customisable gifts industry, with products such as personalised models of art or dolls, in many shapes in metal or plastic, or even as consumable art, such as 3D printed chocolate.