3D Printing

I don’t know if there has honestly been an uptick of it recently, but of late it seems a not insignificant fraction of the folks I interact with online have selected now as the moment to either get into 3D printing as a hobby, or to dramatically upgrade their setups.

3D printing was just taking off when I was in college. My recollection of it was always that the process was very cool, but finicky and unreliable at all times. The things people produced were always little trinkets, and it never really struck me as a practical tool. In 2018 when I started work professionally, I found my new employer made heavy use of laser sintering based 3D printing to produce valves, nozzles, and pressure chambers of unusual shape and size. It still seemed very niche, but the applications to high-performance metallic structures where machining could be either prohibitively expensive or impossible made more sense than what I had seen to date.

Fast forward to today, and I finally succame to my curiosity and purchased a 3D printer. I wasn’t sure how much I really wanted to get into it, and I opted to pickup a Sovol SV06 based upon okay reviews, and the minimal up-front cost investment.

I’m very glad that I did.

There is something fantastically mentally empowering about being able to sit down one morning, hash out an idea in a CAD tool, and by the end of the day hold a working solution in your hands. I haven’t even spent a week with the printer yet, but I’ve found myself interacting with it in some way every evening since I set it up.

I assume everyone getting into the hobby gets into printing odds and ends other people have made, and I’m no exception. My house already has a few one-inch animals hiding on the frames of photos, clocks, and shelves.

bunny climbing into a pot my first print of smooth bunny

More importantly though, I’m curious about something outside of work in a way I haven’t really been in ages. There are lots of topics I want to dive into outside of work, but they tend to be of the same mental engagement as the things I do at work (i.e., textually and analysis heavy, and execution light), and printing represents a tangible thing that plays well with having low physical energy and limited ability to push my body physically.

For anyone who has been curious about giving 3D printing a try, given how cheap it is to get started, and how much it can empower you to build small things quickly without extensive tooling, I would strongly encourage diving into the hobby to check things out.

Last modified on 2023-08-06