DIY Tools and Gear
Our favorite DIY tools, materials + gear.
Your own little factory
I had a blast playing with this Dremel Idea Builder 3D printer. The learning curve was relatively low—you need to be computer literate but you don't need to be a software engineer. Here's how it works: The raw material is a filament pulled off a spool and fed into a hot extruder. The extruder moves around laying down layer upon layer of tiny plastic thread.You can either create your own 3D image to build (plenty of free software for that), or go online and download one of the gazillion shapes other people have created and shared. The image then needs to be reformatted in the free Dremel software and saved on a memory stick or an SD card. All that's left is to plug the memory stick into the printer, follow the directions on the touch screen, and watch this modern marvel go to work. The printer can be plugged into a computer or operated over Wi-Fi as well. Everyone asks, "What practical objects can be created with a 3D printer?" But I think 3D printing is as much about learning, creating and having fun as it is about practicality. My first attempts were a monogrammed Christmas ornament for my granddaughter, a big fat letter "M" for my son (his university emblem) and this cool pencil holder for me. The spools come in many different colors and cost about $30 apiece. One spool would create about five or six of these pencil holders. A shape this size takes about 13 hours to print. This 3D40 model is available for $1,299 at online retailers or by calling Dremel at (844) 800-3736. -Mark Petersen, Associate Editor