The growing industry of 3D printing may seem inaccessible to the layman, but the creators of You3Dit.com are among those aiming to change that. They believe, as their site states, that “you should have the power to create physical objects…FAST.”
You3Dit is an interactive website that invites users to create their own 3D printed designs. Say you need a replacement for a car part that is no longer manufactured. Draw or take a picture of the part, upload it to the website, and one of the site’s community of qualified CAD designers will create it for you, using a printer in your area for quick delivery.
To put even more control in the hands of the customer, You3Dit.com lets the user choose from the site’s extensive network of designers. Once an idea is submitted to the site, designers create drafts which are then presented to the customer for approval. Users then decide which design they prefer, and a contract is created with that designer, who in turn locates a printer in the customer’s geographical area, minimizing shipping costs and delivery time.
Check out this quick overview of the idea to print concept:
Requests submitted to the site range from personalized coasters to business card holders to an alien head. (In case you were wondering, an alien head will run you about $20.)
In an interview given to Slashdot, founder and CEO Chris McCoy describes a colleague who lost part of a hand in a construction accident. Rather than starting from scratch, McCoy and his team researched ways to create a prosthetic for a minimal cost and discovered e-NABLE, a site that creates low-cost prosthetics for those who have lost limbs. The site’s customizable designs offered an easy way to print a replacement hand – for about $50. His colleague was overwhelmed.
“That was a… ‘this is why I’m doing this’ kind of moment,” said McCoy. “This is why 3D printers are so amazing, because they can enable some of these things.”
The crowdsourcing aspect of the website also allows for innovative ideas to flow between average consumers and expert designers. For someone who has little to no knowledge of engineering, creating a miniature microscope or a toothpaste squeezer may seem like a fantasy. But on You3Dit, consumers get to take part in the creative process – and designers get to create things that they may never have envisioned before.
“I realized that my scope of design is limited,” said McCoy, “so I need people to have these new needs that allow me to bring amazing technologies and applications to life.”
Through sites such as You3Dit.com, obstacles from the irritating, such as a broken key, to the devastating, such as the loss of a limb, are now much more surmountable.
For those interested from the design perspective, You3Dit is also looking to add to their roster of designers to take concepts to the next dimension.
What have you always dreamed of building? Browse through the gallery of crowdsourced creations at You3Dit and consider the possibilities. Have you used this service before? Tell us how it went for you over at the You3Dit forum thread at 3DPB.com.