As part of a BBC Click special questioning whether 3D printing in the home will ever be realistic, Inition were approached to create a fully functional replica of a cooker knob using a 3D printer.
Inspired by the recent 3D Printshow, an exhibition which showcased innovative and imaginative uses of 3D printing technology, of which Inition participated in, the BBC’s flagship technology programme aimed to cut through the hype. With issues such as copyright infringement, safety, lack of technical knowledge and quality control, the programme concluded that it is more realistic to expect blueprints of simple objects being made available to download via the Internet, which can then be printed at home.
To illustrate how this is already possible in a domestic setting, Inition’s 3D print and scanning team modelled a cooker knob taken the producer’s own stove. Two versions were then printed; one with our Z Corp printer and the other with our 3DTouch printer from Bits From Bytes. Not only did the replicas look very similar, such was the accuracy of the modelling and 3D printing, it fitted perfectly to the stove and was fully functional, proving the concept that basic household spare parts can already be produced ‘on-demand’ using 3D printing technology.
During a segment of the show, Andy Millns, Creative Director, Inition Ltd. said: “There is a lot of debate what objects are suited to 3D printing, whether that is at home or a local bureau service. One of the biggest constraints is the materials available, so if you have parts with multiple materials it may be that you don’t have a printer that can print in those multi-materials in the home. There maybe some assembly required afterwards and that all limits the type of people that might use that for home manufacturing.”
With interest in 3D printing at an all time high, and some sections of the media suggesting people will soon be able to print out any object in the home, Dan Simmons’s report raised several important issues. Whilst the technology may inject a new lease of life into print shops, a lack of engineering skills and materials could mean printing replacement parts will remain in the hands of the professionals, whilst producing personalised gifts in the home is already happening.