Print out a key or whistle? Welcome to the era of 3-D printing

Print out a key or whistle? Welcome to the era of 3-D printing

EUGENE, Ore.-  Unlike your printer at home, a 3-D printer layers materials like plastic or liquid metal into a 3-dimensional object.

Rick Osgood, co-founder of Eugene Maker Space, a non-profit work space, owns a 3-D printer.

"It's a fantastic tool," Osgood said. "It gives you all these capabilities that people didn't have before. I feel like it empowers you to do more, and be more creative and solve your own problems."

3-D printers have been around for years, but until now, they have been priced too far out of the hands of most people. Printers are now sold in kits for as a little as a few hundred dollars.

Osgood said 3-D printers give people a chance to innovate, copy or create parts that aren't available. For the most part, printers replace smaller items that don't have a market.

"If I ever want a shower curtain ring, I can go print 10 of them. I don't have to buy those anymore," he said. "A common one is a whistle or a bottle opener. You can just download them now, and print them out."

Osgood said with little or no expereince, you can print just about anything that is the size of your printing template.

"There are social networking sites where you can create or download designs," he said. "Let's say for example the house key. I could load up the key and type in the code for my house key and it will change it in real time, and let me download the exact one I want, without me having to even know how to do 3-D modeling."

Osgood thinks we should embrace 3-D printers, and technology will only get better.

Eugene Maker Space is open Tuesday and Friday nights. For a small monthly fee you can be apart of Eugene Maker Space, and everyone, all ages is welcome to join. The 3-D printer will be on display at the Eugene Maker Faire at the Science Factory this Saturday.