3D printing

3D printing is something I learned about a few years back, but I’ve never seen one in person or had anything made by one, but have long thought there are unlimited possibilities.
Anyone with an interest or experience?

We create 3D printed product prototypes almost daily as an integral part of out product development process. The printer we use is a bit outside the price range of the average consumer though, costing about as much as a new car. There are more cost effective options out there for home use, from open source to prebuilt kits . Any of these systems will also require some form of CAD software. We use Solidworks, but the free version of SketchUp (formerly owned by Google, now sold to Trimble) might give you enough functionality to get started.

Not sure what you are looking to make, but one thing to keep in mind when using a 3D printer is that thin shells of material, like say a flashlight body, generally aren’t very sturdy. It will depend somewhat on your choice of printer and thermoplastic, but you’re not likely to be able to print a custom case that would tolerate being dropped on pavement from hand height. We often have to tweak our prototype designs to accommodate the low stress tolerance of the material and still have things crack, shear, and fly apart from time to time. You could, however, print a mold and then cast a very robust case in resin.

Instructables.com, one of my personal favorite websites, can give you an idea of some of the possibilities with a home 3d printer.