Pushing the limits of 3D technology: that's the focus of "3D Camp Houston," which kicks off Saturday morning at the University of Houston.
It's a convention that brings together people who work and play with 3D technology.
These days, just about anything you can create on a computer you can also print out in real life on a 3D printer.
Most 3D printers work by adding minute layers of plastic in just the right areas, according to the design.
"It builds it up layer by layer," explained Dave Morris, founder of 3D Camp Houston. "And as each layer is printed, it starts to dry. And then the next layer is printed and it adheres to it."
3D printing is already being used in the medical field, to "print" customized body braces for patients. And that's just the beginning.
"Someday, we'll be wheeled into the operating room," said 3D Camp Houston Vice Chair Bridgette Mongeon. "And they'll print a kidney in us, of our own biomass, which is kind of freaky when you think about it. It's almost Frankenstein-ian."
As the technology improves, the price is coming down. And that is opening up 3D printing for the average Joe.
"You can buy a 3D printer today that costs anywhere between $700 and $1300 dollars," said Morris. "At that point, you're talking about a consumer device."
One local man is taking the technology into Toyland, with an industrial 3D printer that cost $60,000.
Phil Leech's company, "Action Figure Labs," can put your face on a miniature superhero figurine. His website is Beta-testing now but it's scheduled to go live next week.
Leech got the idea at a Build-A-Bear franchise. While his daughter was happily creating her own customized teddy bear, he says, his son was battling boredom.
"My ‘a-ha moment' was when I saw him sitting on the floor playing Nintendo," Leech explained. "I realized there wasn't an equivalent experience for boys. A Build-A-Bear for boys."
For more information:
3D Camp Houston 2012
Action Figure Labs: Customized Mini-Me's