It is a little early to be thinking about your next Christmas list, but when the gift-giving season draws closer, a great present to ask for is a 3D printer. A 3D printer is not a typical gift most people might think to ask for or even know about, so in case you are unfamiliar with what it is, here is a quick summary.
According to 3DPrinting, a 3D printer is a form of additive manufacturing which makes three dimensional objects by layering thin, successive sheets of material, usually a type of plastic, until the object is created.
Before I cover the reasons you should have a 3D printer, you might be concerned about how large of a hole it will put in your bank account. Luckily for you, 3D printing has become more commonplace within the last decade. The printers have gone through the same process as the initial computers from the 20th century. What were once only expensive and solely commercially-viable products have now developed into affordable personal devices.
According to Matthew Mensley with All 3DP, an entry-level printer such as the Creality Ender 3 V2 only costs $269 on the official store website. The Creality Ender 3 V2 was the highest ranked for the lower price point, but there are still printers even cheaper which are available. While $269 is not a cheap purchase by any means, it is nearly half the price of the latest standard PlayStation 5 which starts at $499.
Why purchase a 3D printer over a brand new gaming console? For starters, a 3D printer is still a fun, albeit different, enjoyable pastime, but it also can be an investment for your future. Particularly for engineering majors, owning a 3D printer can help develop many skills which could be useful in the workplace.
According to Michael Dwamena of 3D Printerly, making the digital files to print specific objects must be done in a Computer Aided Model (CAD) software. Learning to create your own 3D model in various programs like SolidWorks or AutoCAD is a useful skill which stands out on a resume and could even be useful in different classes.
From personal experience, in every interview I have had with a potential employer, they always ask the question, "So what is a hobby of yours?" or some slight variation. It will be a lot more impressive and memorable to talk about your experience with additive manufacturing and 3D modeling than it would be to brag about your kill/death ratio on Call of Duty on the PS5.
Even for those who are not engineering majors, a 3D printer is still a fun, viable purchase. Making your own toys or knick-knacks based off the latest popular media is now an easy possibility. It can also be a functional tool which can create do-it-yourself parts and tools to complete your latest home improvement project. Whether you need a new vase, a new phone case or even a miniature replica of the Eiffel Tower for some reason, the possibilities of things to create are effectively infinite. Even if you do not want to spend the time making your own models, websites like thingiverse.com contain millions of files of pre-made prints to choose from.
While 3D printing might not be the flashiest gift everyone is going crazy over, it can be a very useful and entertaining present. The endless possibilities it offers and the marketable skills you will develop at a relatively cheap price make purchasing a 3D printer a great idea.