GetPrinting3D, a retail store for three-dimensional printers, opened for business on the north side of Dayton Thursday. It’s one of just a handful in the country, but the potential uses of 3D printers are growing fast.
In the center of a cube-shaped 3D printer about the size of a hotel mini-fridge, a little mechanical arm squirts out thin jets of white liquid plastic, slowly building a chess piece.
Meanwhile, Brent Cox, of GetPrinting3D, holds up the future in his hands.
"Fifteen minutes, probably fifty cents of material, maybe, and you’ve got a comb," he says. Right now, the future pretty much looks like a plastic comb, or any number of other novelties coming out of 3D printers. But what makes it different than the dollar store is that every object comes from a customizeable digital design, and you can download 3d printer designs of pretty much anything, or come up with your own."
"The whole culture of it is more democratized, so it’s more of an open source," Cox says. "That’s why this technology is...growing."
He says 3d printers could be used in schools, or for designers to make prototypes. They can also manufacture custom gifts; as we spoke Mike Blakesly, the vice-mayor of Vandalia, was in the next room, getting his face scanned to turn into a tiny plastic model.
And there are even more serious uses, especially as the possibilities for raw materials expand.
"I mean they’re literally talking about in three to five years, using the same 3D printer technology to print kidneys," says Cox.
The raw material for printing those would be live human cells.
For now, the cheapest 3D printer, which prints only hard plastics, retails for around $1300.