The future is here. No need to run out and drop tens of thousands of dollars on the latest rapid prototyping printer or SLS unit to turn the bits that make up your CAD drawings into real life atoms – atoms of titanium no less. You can now have real life versions of your Google SketchUp, Blender, or Rhinocerous designs printed in metal, in their full 3D glory, and delivered to your door for fractions of the cost of owning the equipment required to make it happen. i.materialise announced yesterday that it is now bringing one of the world’s newest and most advanced manufacturing technologies into the hands of everyday consumers, inventors, and designers – anybody – for the first time via a 3D file upload feature through their website.
The printed parts are definitely within watch scale. The current level of precision still leaves much to be desired if you were to, say, be creating new tooth profiles or printing a titanium balance staff, but for rough bridge work or case components, the process definitely holds potential. Large pocket watch wheels or unfinished, titanium, pinion blanks may even be a possibility. You can read more about the technical specifications and printing guidelines here.