3D Printing

At The HUB, we are very fascinated in 3D printing. It allows for countless opportunities, unlimited creativity, and a unique inclusivity among individuals with developmental disabilities. So far, we have integrated 3D printed parts into our karting program, used 3D printing to make our own line of adaptive switches, and even organized a new program around the technology! If you’re as interested in 3D printing and its possibilities as we are, read below, and check our some of our favorite links.

3D Printing is the future of everything made!

Cleaning, crafting, woodworking and many of the other skills we strive to teach individuals with special needs are a thing of the past. Well, cleaning is more necessary now than ever, but you get the point. Why not teach them the future! Although, the process and equipment are still foreign to some, 3D printing has been around for several decades. However, it was not until 2009 that several patents expired resulting in the mass production of affordable systems that have flooded the common consumer market. In 2013 the 3D printing market was estimated at 4.1 billion dollars. The number is now 21 billion for year 2020 and is estimated to double in size every three years! (3D Hubs, The 3D Printing Trends Report 2019).

3D printers are now commonplace in every school and college, with some schools starting with students as young as 3rd grade.

Sure, this is not for everyone, but for the tech savvy “transition age” individuals who are moving from the routine of school into adulthood, this could be a tremendous source of purpose, pride, inclusion and most importantly, income!

As with any electrical device, there are certain risks involved, but little more than using the stove or microwave and certain precautions, such as dedicated smoke detector and certain software enhancements can ensure the printer is no more or less dangerous than the toaster.

As with any technology, there is a broad range of products. The average personal printer is around $400.00, with a low-end unit costing as little as $129.00. Then you need software. There is plenty of free software, but for another $150.00, you can purchase the same software used by many major makers. And finally, there are the consumables. A roll of filament, or the raw material used to produce an item, averages around $20.00 per roll. To put that in perspective, you can make 29 fancy business card holders from one roll at an average material cost of $0.69 each. If an individual were to sell each business card holder for $5.00 each, it would result in a gross revenue of $145.00.

The following sites are a good source of information to learn more about the specifics of the hardware, software and the industry in general.