Out & About: Claremont MakerSpace hosts 3D printing club

  • The 3D Printing Club meets at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays at the Claremont MakerSpace. Courtesy photograph

  • The 3D Printing Club meets at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays at the Claremont MakerSpace.

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 2/11/2019 9:00:13 PM
Modified: 2/11/2019 9:00:16 PM

CLAREMONT — Auto parts. Furniture. Shoes. Prosthetic limbs. Aircraft components. These are just a few of the items manufactured with 3D printing, a process that creates three-dimensional objects by squirting out molten material, bit by bit.

Like many other technologies, 3D printing has become cheaper and more accessible over time. These days anyone can buy a good desktop 3D printer for less than $500, and — with the help of free software — design and print hundreds of 3D objects, such as planters, vases, kitchen gadgets, tools and phone cases.

Both new and experienced 3D printmakers looking for ideas and support are invited to join 3D Print Club, a weekly event at Claremont MakerSpace where members participate in freestyle design sessions and receive advice from an instructor. At the end of each three-month session, the group collects its favorite printed objects and hosts an open exhibit.

The somewhat tongue-in-cheek rules for 3D Print Club include “You do not talk about 3D Print Club,” “If the printer beeps and moves to home, the print is over” and “If this is your first night at 3D Print Club, you HAVE to print.”

The club’s lead instructor is web designer and Unity resident Tiffany Vincent. Technophobes might be interested to hear that Vincent was an English/humanities major and is largely self-taught. “My degree … might seem a little odd for someone really into tech, but I think it strengthened my critical thinking skills and helped me become better at learning on my own,” she said, via email.

Vincent answered a few questions about the club, which meets on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. and costs $15. Below is a lightly edited version of the exchange.

Question: What exactly is 3D printing, for those who aren’t familiar with it?

Answer: 3D printing is where a machine produces in the real world an object that exists as a model on a computer. The printer lays down successive layers of material (usually plastic) to build the object. It’s a lot like a motorized hot glue gun, except instead of glue, the machine is depositing plastic.

Q: What are few ways 3D printing is used?

A: There probably isn’t an industry today that doesn’t use 3D printing. The technology has been adapted to create everything from food to clothing to human body parts. 3D printers are even used to create 3D printers.

Q: What steps are involved in designing an object?

A: There are a bunch of ways for someone who has never created a 3D model to start, and you don’t need a super powerful computer to do it. Tinkercad (tinkercad.com) is a free browser-based design program that includes tons of easy tutorials that get you creating right away.

Q: Can you offer any tips for people just getting started?

A: Like learning any new skill, being patient with yourself and focusing on having fun is the best way to quickly build your confidence in 3D modeling.

Q: What are some of the objects designers have created in the Claremont MakerSpace studio?

A: We’ve made everything from Christmas tree ornaments, to organizer drawers, to knobs for other electronics devices, to Halloween costume parts.

Q: How did you come up with the rules for 3D Print Club?

A: The rules are based on the rules from the 1999 film Fight Club. I like the idea that everyone prints their first night, and I wanted something that wasn’t so much about being competitive or being instructor-led. I wanted all skill levels to feel comfortable having a fun night hanging out and designing or working with the printers.

Q: How can people join or learn more?

A: Go to the Claremont MakerSpace’s website (claremontmakerspace.org) and check out the Classes & Events section to sign up. Or, stop by the MakerSpace at 46 Main St. You can get a tour of the space and see the 3D printers up close.

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