On a large scale, 3D printers have an infinite amount of uses. People already use them in the medical field, for construction and mass production, and they could even help fight climate change in the future by reducing our carbon footprint and transportation emissions. 3D printers are steadily becoming more and more prominent in the world today and, based on current trends, will continue to aid companies and future technologies.
On a smaller scale, 3D printers could be used for education, convenience — or just plain old fun.
The Creality 3D Ender 3 Printer is a delightful design of a 3D printer that allows you to dip your toes in this innovative technology for a relatively low cost. This 2-foot-tall printer sells for $230 on Amazon which, compared to more standard printers available online that may go for a few grand apiece such as the Makerbot Replicator+, is extremely affordable.
This printer does not come pre-assembled and it is a bit of a hassle to set up. It could take an hour or two if you’re quick, or longer if tech is not your niche. The setup process, though somewhat frustrating, needs to be meticulous seeing that even a minor mistake could be catastrophic if you end up paying for extra consumables or break something.
Once it’s set up, however, the printing process is remarkably easy. First, you need to download a template. Many websites offer free templates to download and there are innumerable unique templates to choose from. My favorite of these sites called Thingiverse offers 167 different Baby Yoda templates (my favorite meme) which is only one example of the many things you can print.
Once you’ve picked your template you can download it onto a MicroSD card (one comes included with the printer) and insert it into the printer. After a few button pushes, the printer will begin creating your product.
Depending on the size of the object, it can take a while. Objects I’ve created that are only about two inches tall have taken nearly three hours to print. This isn’t too surprising. After all, it’s a printer, not a genie. The printer can create objects up to 8.7 x 8.7 x 9.8 inches in size.
The printer is remarkably good with perfecting even the most minute of details. I recently printed out a stand for my phone to sit on and I was blown away by the exact angles, the smooth edges, and the crispness of the stand. It’s only occasional that the printer errs in the process of producing minuscule details, and this is usually the fault of the template inserted, not the printer.
This Creality 3D Ender 3 Printer is helpful as it can print objects that fulfill practical purposes such as guitar picks or pencil cups. Maybe you want to customize your desk with a fun decoration — such as a little Baby Yoda figurine (I know I keep mentioning those but they are pretty cool). My brother and I used this printer to create a dozen miniature penguins for a practical joke on one of our friends.
The printer uses monochromatic filament to print objects. Whatever color filament you feed it is the color that comes out. As of now, there are no options for multicolored printing — but, you could try feeding it white filament and, after the printing is done, color it in with Sharpies or acrylic paint.
If you’re willing to endure the setup process and hours-long printing sequence, the Creality 3D Ender 3 printer is a fun way to learn and create. It offers a glimpse into an industry that will have a major impact on future innovation.