3D printers were all the rave at this year’s CES.
Several models debuted, all of which got a lot of attention. Being a new technology, they are probably out of the price range for most consumers. But at $2,000 a pop or less, they aren’t completely out of the question for many organizations, including perhaps your local church!
What are ways a church might use a 3D printer?
Here in this picture you see a real 3D printout of a cathedral:
When a church makes e decision to relocate or to go through a major expansion, it’s not uncommon to build a 3D miniature model of the plans to get people excited and to assist with planning decisions. This generally involves hiring a contractor to build the model. With the assistance of a 3D printer, the entire thing could be made in-house.
What are other options?
How about creating a model of Solomon’s Temple to assist with Bible studies? Or perhaps you might print out crosses or other Christian symbols that can be given away as part of a prayer ministry.
While the “cool” factor is certainly there, some difficulties remain.
First, 3D printing is not like traditional printing in any respect. You can’t just take a picture of something and send it to the printer. Objects must be built in CAD much like you would design an architectural building. Most leaders in ministry (that I know at least) have never used CAD, or if they have it was years ago in some High School class.
3D printers are also limited to plastic objects and require $50 spools of plastic. So, if you were thinking of using a 3D printer to create food entrees like the replicators on Star Trek, you’ll have to wait until more materials than just plastic can be used.
Fortunately, these problems are not huge.
Plenty of objects can be made with plastic, and the $50 price tag for the spools is remarkably comparable to traditional ink cartridges. As for learning CAD, two options exist. The first is to take a class or use online help files. The second option is to forgo learning CAD altogether and instead download a free design for a 3D printer. This is where Thingiverse comes in.
Think of Thingiverse as a site as a file-sharing site for 3D plans. As long as you’re looking for something that others would like too, there’s a chance you’ll find it on Thingiverse.
Of course if you want a custom model for your new sanctuary, then you’ll need to design it in-house or, more than likely, use your architect consultants.
Image via Thingiverse.com