3D Printing and Domestic Use

The current discourse around the widespread adoption and particularly domestic use of 3D printing is focused on the notion that this technology will give users access to customized or highly specific objects/parts (which might otherwise be difficult to obtain) when the need arises.
The goal of this research will be to examine the validity of this claim by examining how 3D printing is currently being used to produce toys, tools, and repair parts. These three areas of use were selected because they are often cited as examples of the promise of 3D printing, as well as, showing the potential consumer applications of the technology.

• Toys: New, copied, modified, or customized toys are created using 3D printers. The complexity of the toys can range from the simple (e.g. a top or building block) to the intricate (e.g. a highly detailed action figure/doll).
• Tools: One current use is to print custom tools for specific purposes or for reduced costs. Recent examples include the development of a specialized pickup tool for use by scientists doing stem cell research, vacuum formers for shaping thermoplastic, Dremel-powered centrifuges, and custom machining jigs.
• Repairs: 3D printers are used to create replacement parts for consumer goods. Examples include hard to source retaining pins and clamps and replacement knobs for kitchen appliances.

The major deliverables for this project will be the following: 1) case studies reviewing current state of the art and examples from each area; 2) the development of best practices and tool chains for each of the three areas based upon case studies; 3) interface design and user testing with the aim of offering a way forward in the development of consumer facing technologies and processes for 3D printing.

Faculty Supervisor:

Matt Ratto





Engineering - mechanical



University of Toronto



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