SAN JUAN, PR - 3D printers that prototype machinery components, print out parts, even use wood product-based "ink" to make consumer goods, were presented at the wood machinery conference WIC 2014 in San Juan this morning.
"3D Printing: A Disruptive Technology" mixed a multi-media presentation, live demonstration of an operating printer, and an interactive town-hall style question and answer session, including questions submitted at #WIC2014 on Twitter.
Vincente Gaspo, an expert with San Juan-based Trede, a 3D printing technology consultancy, brought along a printer which silently plotted a flat-bottomed vessel during the presentation. Previously printed samples, and the raw filament material
Jeff Onsrud lead the group through the six types of 3D printer platforms, each iteration of the technology an improvement upon previous generations. Printers can produce parts or even working objects - a working pistol and a working adjustable wrench produced with the technology were cited - which can be fashioned from all sorts of materials, including plastic, wood fibers, and metals such as gold and titanium.
Presenters showed the rapidly growing interest in the 3D technology, evidence by spiking searches at Google for the subject. Thingiverse, a website set up by 3D printer manufacturer Makerbot, lists over 218,000 items that can be downloaded and printed on the devices - which range in price from under $1,000 to $1 million, depending on capabilities. Scanners were described that can capture original objects, digitize them into 3D files, then drive the printers into action.
2014 IWF Atlanta woodworking show manager Jim Wulfekuhle told the audience that a conference session on 3D printing would be presented at the International Woodworking Fair. Research group Infotrends will also do a secondary research project addressing new printing technologies for the wood industry, which will be presented at the show.
Presenters at the WIC 2014 Technology Task Force -formed jointly from WMMA and WMIA technology committees - included Pascal Doucet, Doucet Industries; Jamison Scott, Air Handling Systems; Jeff Onsrud, C.R. Onsrud; James Scarlett, Scarlette, Inc.; Ryan Akhurst, Cantek American; with questions and answers moderated by this writer.