It took just 20 minutes for Henry Gridley to print a small red Pokemon gaming piece at MakeICT on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s cool to see something you designed on a computer become a physical object,” Gridley said.
Gridley, 19, is an electrical and computer engineering student at Northeastern University in Boston and a member of MakeICT, where people can collaborate on technology, art and design, combining machine shops with workshop space.
MakeICT, 1500 E. Douglas, was formed in 2012, and for artists, engineers and tinkerers who want to explore the world of 3D printing, they can use the group’s machines for a fraction of what it would cost to buy them.
First, designs are created on a special computer program or found on websites like Thingaverse, which has thousands of free designs.
Then the design files are sent to the printers, where spools of colorful filament – spaghetti-like plastic – are fed into the printers, heated and layered into creations.
MakeICT has three 3D printers for members to use. Memberships are $25 a month and include 24-hour access to the space and various machines.
To use the 3D printers, you must be peer certified, which means that another member who has experience using the machines has to help teach you – or you can take a $5 workshop for an afternoon.
Christian Kindel, MakeICT volunteer who oversees the 3D printers, said he first used a 3D printer when he was an electrical engineering student at Wichita State.
His first creation? A bendy snake.
MakeICT stocks various colors of filament for members to use for 4 cents a gram, or you can bring your own, Kindel said.
For members like Gridley, using the 3D printers offers a real-world experience for what he’s studying at school. He’s had a wind turbine printed at a studio at his school for a project, but he’s never done it himself until now.
“It’s not something most people have access to, but with MakeICT here, it’s much more accessible for most people,” Gridley said.
“I don’t have the money to buy one right now. My dad has a kit I want to put together, but I don’t think it would be as robust as all of the stuff here.”