Morinville gets 3D printing club

A Morinville business owner has started a local 3D printing club.

Chris Logan, who owns Imagination Technologies, a family-run, Canada-wide 3D printing distributor based in Morinville, wanted to give the community access to the emerging technology and teach those interested how to successfully bring their designs to life.

Although there is a growing interest in the technology, which is present in many schools and homes, Logan says 3D printing isn’t as easy as just plugging in the machine.

He has heard countless stories that go something like this: “I bought one, but it’s sitting in the corner and doesn’t work.” More often than not, the machine works just fine. It’s just not as simple as most consumers expected.

“The term printer is used pretty lightly. When it comes to it, it’s more of a prototyping machine then it is a printer,” explained Logan.

“There’s an incredibly steep learning curve in learning how to use it,” he added.

That’s why a purchase from Imagination Technologies includes a few hours of training to get customers started.

That’s also partly why Logan decided to create a 3D printing club in Morinville.

“The club is to educate the people in the area and get them on the path of figuring out how to use a printer and getting their designs to become a reality,” he said.

The club, which started April 5, runs every Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Morinville Community Cultural Center, in meeting rooms 2 and 3. The first hour is focused on how to use the printer and the design software, while the second is more hands on.

The club is a not-for-profit. The $40 per month fee goes towards covering the costs associated with hosting the club and the materials used. The instructor and printer time is donated.

Eventually, the club should be self-funding said Logan, who added the printer to 3D Hubs, a website that helps connect users to local printers in order to get products and prototypes printed.

Spots are currently limited to 40, but Logan said he would do his best to accommodate all those who are interested. Children under 12 are welcome, but must be accompanied by a parent.

There are currently more than 50 printers in the area according to 3D Hubs, which shows the growing interest in a technology Logan calls “very addictive” and the way of the future.

“This technology is changing manufacturing and is going to change the way we manufacture pieces in the future for sure. It changes things like supply chain; it helps up-and-coming creative designers figure out how to make their designs come to life,” he said.

Not only does 3D printing make prototyping easier for entrepreneurs, but it also helps the environment.

Logan uses his printer to create one-off pieces, like a broken suitcase handle, that can’t easily be replaced – thus avoiding the landfill.

He also creates toys for his children, which using his polylactic acid filament, made from sugar and starch or from rice and starch, is 100 per cent biodegradable and, unlike store-bought trinkets, will decompose in a landfill within six months.