The use of 3-D printing is gathering momentum across Perth, with growing numbers of businesses — and even a resources company — investing in the fast-moving technology.

Working out of a tiny office in Fremantle, Angus Deveson and Jon Snelgrove are front-and-centre of the brave new world of 3-D printing, through what they say is Perth’s first 3-D printing cafe.

Working in the ilk of an old photo developer, the duo, from the aptly titled 3-D Printing Studios, have ideas or designs pitched to them, which they transfer into a format that can be printed — sometimes overnight — by their 3-D machines.

And in what is believed to be a first, they offer punters an opportunity to come in off the street and play with a basic form of the technology in the “3-D café”.

A number of businesses around Perth offer the service for products such as models — generally used by architects or builders — and the creation of prototypes for entrepreneurs or inventors.

To highlight its scope, graphite explorer Kilbaran Resources yesterday entered into a memorandum of understanding with Queensland-based 3-D Group to investigate the application of graphite in the 3-D printing market.

The two companies will establish a joint research and development company, 3-D Graphtech Industries, which will attempt to patent graphite applications for 3-D printing.

Although it is in its infancy in WA, the technology gained notoriety around the world when a US-based company created a gun through 3-D printing last year.

Mr Deveson, who moved from Sydney to help launch 3-D Printing Studios’ Perth office a month ago, said though it would draw the line at anything illegal, it was open to most projects.

“The sex trade and guns are a no-no, ” he said with a chuckle. “It’s still in its beginnings here but I think 3-D printing will become more mainstream in the future as the technology improves in line with demand.”

When WestBusiness visited the small business, a number of potential clients called with unique pitches.

One wanted the duo to help him build a model of how a proposed apartment development would impact upon his home and another had plans for a prototype of a new speaker.

The who, what, where and why of 3-D printing

What is 3-D printing?

Using machines to make everyday things, from plastic toys, home or building models or even (one day in the near future) human body parts.

How do 3-D printers work?

Start by designing an object on an ordinary computer. From the bottom-up, the 3-D printer turns the design into a whole object, slice-by-slice. The layers stick together to form a solid object. Lower-end printers use melted plastics while higher-end devices use powders and resins.

Who uses 3-D printing?

Designers, architects, builders and inventors generally.

How much do the printers cost?

$700 for home versions to more than $100,000 for commercial models.


© The West Australian

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