3D printing is the poster child of the maker movement. A recent industry survey found that 70% of companies increased spending on 3D printing between 2017 and 2018. Make magazine, leaders of the Maker Faire movement, sells 3D printers on their online store. NASA sent a 3D printer to the International Space Station in 2014.

3D printing is so ubiquitous in maker circles for a reason: it has enormous potential.

Imagine: a printer-size box in your office. You see a necklace you like on Instagram. Click “print” and a few hours later the necklace is sitting on your desk, freshly printed. Or, imagine this, your Japanese car needs a special part. No worries, you don’t have to wait for shipping. Your mechanic’s printer is already fabricating the part in his shop.

“I kind of equate it back … to the early 90s, when the internet was first becoming popular,” says Mark Hollon, founder of 3D Cincy, a West Chester-based 3D printer company. “It feels like the wild west. We know we want to do something with this.”

Hollon and his small fleet of 3D printers is fabricating the future in Cincinnati. He taught himself 3D printing during weekends in his basement starting in 2014, and he opened 3D Cincy in 2017. 3D Cincy sells printers and offers repair services, but most of his business at the moment is in prototyping.

“That’s kind of the niche we’re trying to fill,” he says. At the moment, he’s 3D printing large pieces of cargo equipment for a Kentucky company that wants to test their design before paying a lot of money for a permanent mold. It’s significantly easier, and cheaper, to 3D print designs than it is to manufacture individual models.

Hollon is determined to see 3D printing’s potential actualized. He’ll be explaining how at Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire on April 13.

Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire (CMMF) is a gathering of fascinating, curious people who enjoy learning and sharing what they do. You can attend CMMF at Union Terminal on April 13 – it’s free with Cincinnati Museum Center admission. Interested in presenting? Apply here.

 

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