For most young people who are thinking about their careers, or slightly older people thinking about career development, in design and rapid prototyping services it isn’t until you have already joined a university course that you will get anywhere near the equipment and tools you will actually be using.
3D design software is of course readily available for home use but the actual tools to make products from your designs aren’t: this means that people who might have chosen this career path into design, robotics and prototyping don’t and that people that do may regret it as they have never had a chance to try things out before hand.
MakersFactory in Santa Cruz though is an educational center where anyone can come in and use 3D printers, make robots and use tools such as laser cutters to play around with their existing ideas and find out how these processes works.
For many people it is a mystery how the products they use and work with are actually developed and this fills in those gaps. This is great for children and adults, especially those working in related industries who will be able to use their knowledge, for example to better serve a customer who works in rapid prototyping services.
One of the most popular pierces of equipment at MakersFactory is their new 3D printer allowing almost any 3D design made using CAD software to be transformed into a model, even potentially a working model or parts to create a larger item.
As well as the facilities at MakersFactory being available to people taking classes they are also available to inventors and designers who either have their own small businesses or are hobbyists. The 3D printer especially allows them to use rapid prototyping services in their own time that would otherwise be hugely expensive and probably limited to sending a file to a rapid prototyping company or making an inaccurate model themselves.
Many interested in environmentally friendly manufacturing have also come to the MakersFactory to see and use the 3D printers. The 3D printers used are ZCorporation Z Printers and this means they don’t waste any material. The method by which they print is using binder and a powder to create a tough resin. It can be made to any shape though and the powder is hardened with minute accuracy. The finished item is then pulled out of the leftover powder and importantly the powder that is left is reused meaning no waste.
The Z printers can also cut waste by quickly and easily re-creating broken and lost parts from simple digital files. Plastic parts from home appliances can be easily made even if the part is not available from the manufacturer. Where the manufacturers don’t publish the original design file it may be possible to even make a 3D file using 3D scanning equipment that is also often used in design and rapid prototyping services.
At Makers Factory anyone can come along and for a very reasonable price print out designs, it is hard to imagine then that MakersFactory outlets and their rivals won’t become common in major cities around the world.