play a vital role in nearly every product we buy,
but for most of us, it’s a shadowy and unfamiliar
universe,” says co-author Melba Kurman. “3D
printing technologies make the design and manufacturing process not just accessible, but interesting. Kids and adults get excited about the growing internet marketplace of stunning and whimsical consumer-to-consumer 3D printed toys, housewares, jewelry and iPhone cases. When people see
an amazing 3D printed object that captures their
imaginations, they want to know how it’s possible
to create something so unusual or advanced.”
3D printing is allowing people to peer behind the
curtain of design and see how the process works,
but it’s also simplifying things for design engineers. For them, it’s a limitless world full of great
potentials like oddly shaped batteries or micro
Leveling the playing field
For the design engineer, 3D prototyping is not as
foreign a concept as it might be to other industries due to the use of rapid prototyping. “Design
engineers, particularly in the electronics, automotive and aerospace industries caught the wave
early since they use additive manufacturing for
With education and entertainment squarely targeted, CIDEAS recently launched its first video about 3D
printing. What makes this video unique compared to the hundreds of 3D printing videos before it?
It not only shows the four major 3D printing technologies in action (most consumers are not aware
of the variety of 3D printing technologies), it also includes all the messy post processing and finishing
aspects. This feature is often ignored by 3D printer manufacturers and resellers alike in an effort to
downplay the sometimes time consuming part of using these sophisticated industrial machines.
This video takes the viewer through the storyline in which Mike Littrell, the owner of CIDEAS, a
self-proclaimed “car guy” collaborates with fellow “car-guy” Bill Gould (a business associate and peer)
to build a 40-percent scale model of a 1927 Miller 91 Race Car Bill had painstakingly reproduced using
Solidworks, in his spare time.
This project, which was originally created for fun, would eventually become a tradeshow model for
CIDEAS. The team was given only six weeks to complete the project.
From the initial layup of the CAD files all the way through loading and operating the industrial 3D
printers, Mike Littrell explains each highlighted process using time-lapse and narration. This includes
SLA (stereolithography), SLS (selective laser sintering), FDM (fused deposition modeling) and PolyJet.
In the final minutes of this video, Littrell and the head of CIDEAS model shop take the model to the
next level — actually having many of the components nickel plated and vacuum metalized for realism.
The final assembly is then captured using time-lapse, and the final model is displayed proudly at their
The documentation of this model using video was twofold, according to Mike Littrell. “It was im-
portant to create an actual video that presents the viewer with the true complexities of the current 3D
printing technologies, while possibly inspiring people who aren’t familiar with 3D printing, and to show
just how far this technology has come.”
See the video here: