I go to my local library quite often and they recently acquired a 3D printer for their members to use. So 3D printing has hit the mainstream! How about 3D printers for sailing?
I have been completely fascinated by the printer and always stop at the machine, where it is prominently displayed in the library lobby. I have taken some photos of some the projects that people have submitted to be produced by the 3D printer.
Here are a few of the things I happen to get photos of when I was visiting:
This appears to be a pawn from a chess set. I wonder if they had the entire set of chess pieces printed? Can you imaging what you could create to have your own personalized set of chess pieces?
How about an entire fleet of sailboats as the pawns? Or lighthouses, or fish, or…well you get the idea.
This person created their own phone cover that says “Stay Calm and Eat Cupcakes”. Again, what if you could print out an instrument panel cover to replace the cracked cover you now have on board?
I have no idea what this ended up being, I just thought is was a cool depiction of the printer at work.
The picture at the top of the post is what appears to be two eggshell people. One thing I hear repeatedly stated by cruising sailors is that they meet children in many parts of the world and bring them gifts. What if you could print out toys, or eyeglass frames, or shoes to give them? Wouldn’t that be amazing?
My library offered up free printing for the entire month of August, but because of the overwhelming demand, they actually cut off submissions mid-August as the number of submissions will keep the printer running 24/7 through August 31!
I actually created my own project but missed out on the free printing. Bummer. I still plan to submit it when they open re-submissions again next week.
Now you may ask how on earth I was able to create a project for submission. After all I am not an architect or engineer and I certainly don’t have a CAD program on my PC.
You don’t have to be an architect or engineer, nope, those that are architects and engineers, are creating the specs so you can access them on line. I found the CAD specs for an impeller on-line! Got you thinking didn’t I?
There are also free online CAD programs where you can make you own project. The one I used is 3Dtin. It is limited in scope but a great place to start and play.
How about storage containers for food that are the perfect fit for your cooler? Or what if they were the exact shape and dimensions of the weird shaped cubby hole you have? I could go on and on with things I keep thinking the printers could make.
Imagine, instead of loading down your sailboat with replacement parts, you could just print a replacement part on demand!!!!!! Plus think of the reduced weight on your boat?
The printers are getting more affordable every day. You can even find one for as low as $399.
There are different types of plastics that you can use for these printers too. Some are the same as the plastic used for LEGOs (ABS), so this is strong stuff. Now I doubt the printed parts could handle the load of the sail, but in a pinch it might hold long enough to get you to where you can find the actual part you need.
I also understand that there are 3D printers that will print stainless steel objects. I want one of these printers whether is spits out plastic or steel. Guess I’ll add another thing to my sailing wish list.
Here is a TED talk that offers a primer on 3D printing:
Here is an article and video about a man from Minnesota that built his own 3D printer that extrudes concrete instead of plastic and the castle he built.
Imagine the possibilities of 3D Printers for Sailing!
See you on the water,
Sail Away Girl