3D Printing saves money?!

Using the castle from my earlier Hong Kong workshop, I tried to repeat the training session with a group of boys, age five to nine, in Japan. The parents, who ran the international school where my daughter was attending for the summer, decided to sit it out for now and let their three sons lead the way. Here’s one thing I think parents can expect if they decided to give 3D printing a try: You might actually save some money.How many families have a box of toys that are, in fact, simply broken? Missing arms on dolls, broken swords, snapped off pieces of whatever. These toys are broken because children like testing the toys’ limitations. Of course, some kids are clumsy as well, but ultimately it’s their toy, so they want to know how they work in their own tests labs. But as parents looking at that box of what is essentially now useless junk, often times also covered in their children’s saliva, we ask ourselves, “Isn’t there a cheaper, more constructive and sanitary way to this reverse engineering process?”Kazumi and son 2-001When I showed how to hollow out a cube to create the castle’s main body on my laptop, there was a collective “Wow! Cool!” from all the boys. They loved the Extrude function. It’s like they discovered a powerful weapon that can destroy anything in their path. They asked me to put the castle model to one side so that they can drill a hole in something else. I chose a sphere and knocked a small hole straight through to the other side. They totally loved it. I had to get their attention back to building the castle. But of course, they now began to realize how powerful 3D modeling can be.Instead of taking a physical toy castle and breaking it apart to test the limitations, they can now run their tests in virtual space on a laptop. The cone on the castle’s tower can have a radius of a thousand instead of 10. (This was a real gut buster.) The towers can be much wider, or thinner, with just a mouse click. The windows don’t even have to look like windows any more. Anything can be disproportional to anything else. It was the perfect testing ground to seeing how things worked.So maybe that box of broken toys will still be there, but perhaps it can be smaller.