Over the weekend, my boyfriend, Rick, described to me a population of people who call themselves “makers” — they don’t just do any one craft, he said; they do all kinds of things to make whatever they want.
To which I replied, “True story.”
To give you some background, I have been making things since I was… born? Age eight was when I first learned how to sew and embroider, but I was drawing long before then, and each additional craft I learned thereafter came pretty naturally to me. I’m not a master at anything, but if you give my hands something to do, man, they’ll do it.
Rick, in contrast, is a tech guy. He’s clever, a good storyteller, and he knows his way around just about anything that runs on electricity, but when it comes to hands-on making, he doesn’t quite have the coordination to do what he envisions. When I watch him try to draw or sculpt–or chop vegetables–I can tell he has a lot of the theoretical knowledge it takes to make things, but he hasn’t spent the majority of his life practicing.
There is no one recipe for what a maker is or does, and the level of skill they have to execute their projects varies, but they all have one thing in common: they make things. And, now that we are living in The Future, there are quite a few makers who have branched into the realm of 3D printing.
Rick loves 3D printing. His 3D printers (he has two of them now) are little robots who do his artistic bidding. Any problems with the quality of the crafts they put out can be improved by a hardware modification here, a software modification there. It’s been fun to witness his excitement and creativity.
A community of other 3D-printing-savvy makers help to keep Rick and his little robots busy, day and night, through a website called Thingiverse. Thingiverse contains not only free 3D printing files for a vast assortment of objects, but also an active community of makers ready to give each other pointers on how to use the files, and improve the ease and quality of printing.
As an example, Rick downloaded the file for a dice tower (the two of us are also nerds who play D&D 😉 ), but he noticed that there was an issue with the design: one section of the tower printed with a solid top, which isn’t particularly useful if you expect dice to drop all the way through. Other makers had noticed the same issue, and the person who originally posted the file responded to their concerns by creating and distributing an updated version of the design, which fixed the problem.
Thingiverse offers an array of files for toys, gifts, tools, containers, miscellaneous parts, printer modifications, and just about anything else you can think of, but it is an especially exciting resource for those of us who play tabletop games like D&D. The makers of Thingiverse allowed us to take a two-dimensional map with dry-erase lines and turn it into a little three-dimensional world (which will become even more detailed once we 3D print ourselves a few extra tools to make sanding and painting easier).
A lot of the scenery you see here was made with free files available on Thingiverse: