Instructables and RadioShack help you build your very own 3D-printed digital camera.
A 3D-printed digital camera
What will 3D printing mean for the future of production? The technology is rapidly maturing, and there's huge potential for the manufacturing industry.
Earlier this year at a SXSW panel on the future of 3D printing, the consensus was clear: Despite current limitations, the opportunities that 3D printing offers everyone, from the home hobbyist to entrepreneurs to large corporations, will be enormous and often economically advantageous.
Today, 3D printing is used in many incredible ways. You can 3D print a gun, and NASA wants to 3D print food. Many parts used in unmanned aerial vehicles and about 90 parts used on military F-18s are already 3D printed.
3D Systems -- the world's largest 3D-printing technology company -- has a grant from the US Air Force to help get the service's next jet, the F-35, to 900 3D-printed parts, and NASA is already testing 3D-printed rocket parts.
Instructables is working with RadioShack to make how-to projects using standard parts found in their stores. Instructables' Randy Sarafan, who is the lead on the RadioShack projects, builds the projects and writes the Instructables.
Focusing the camera, which shoots images about 640x480, is a bit of a challenge in its current iteration, Sarafan said, because there is no screen. To get the camera focused, you must make small adjustments by twisting the lens, taking a picture, and then loading the picture onto a computer via SD card.
Sarafan said he went through this process about 20 times until he got the focus adjusted properly. Once its fully installed in the case, the focus ring is secured in such a way that it doesn't need to be changed much. It's a fixed focus, 3D-printed camera, and we think this is very cool.
According to Sarafan, using the camera feels a bit like shooting on a traditional film camera, in that you don't immediately know what the pictures look like.
If you’re interested in the step-by-step instructions, check out Sarafan's Instructable for the 3D-printed digital camera here. "In the age of immediate gratification, slowing down the creative process adds a bit of magic and mystery to the whole endeavor," Sarafan said.