You read a lot about how 3D printers are changing the way industries produce everything from food to figurines…

Well my intrigued-self decided I wanted to see what all the craze was about, and decided to go searching for something I could get 3D printed. My scavenger hunt led me to the website of a company named Shapeways.

From what I could tell, this company basically does 3D Printing as a Service. They have 3D modeling apps that allow you to design your own 3D printed item, or they have a store of other people’s designs. At this point I still had no idea what I wanted, I was just interested in learning about the process, so after about an hour of searching through little 3D printed trinkets, I decided I was going to accessorize my new Google Glass.

The first item I found interesting was a “Google Glass Base” that basically acted as a stand for your delicate Glass:

3D Printed Google Glass Stand

While I definitely agree there is a need for this exact product (see: Accidental Glass Pics), there was no way I was dropping $130 on it. My search continued…

After looking through the 15 or so Glass products, I came across the Google Glass “Sunshade“:

3D Printed Google Glass Sunshade

Once again, a product that I personally would find incredibly helpful since seeing the Glass screen on sunny days isn’t very easy, and there’s currently no way to adjust the screen brightness. Not only that, but some people who try on my Glass instinctively puts there hand behind the screen as it gives the image a backdrop and helps your eye initially focus on the text.

Plus it was only $20 (still expensive for a little plastic piece, but worth the experiment)… My first 3D printed item was ordered and on it’s way.

About 2 weeks later, I received my Sunshade in the mail. With such an exact fit, it took a slight struggle to push it over the Glass’ prism. Once I got it on though, it worked exactly as advertised, and definitely helps intensify the image you’re viewing on the device.

All-in-all the entire process was exactly the same as if I had bought a product that was being mass produced. Well technically it took a little longer, but the fact that they were able to manufacture the exact product I ordered in a couple weeks, and not risk the possibility of massively over-manufacturing it, is IMO the most beneficial part about 3D printing. Plus imagine all those extra warehouse costs that a normal manufacturing company has to deal with to keep up with the always unpredictable inventory counts.

Does this mean I’ll be 3D printing my next pizza? Probably not. But the fact that we’re one step closer to The Jetson’s food printer is pretty awesome.

What do YOU think about 3D printing?

Have you designed or bought a 3D printed item?