Could 3D printing be the future for cameras?
Are we all going to be able to 3D print anything we need? Not likely, but there are some very interesting possibilities.
Recently there has been a lot of hype going around with 3D printers. What with people printing everything from tiny models of themselves, to working guns. But one side of the rapidly expanding 3D printing market that hasn’t really hit the mainstream is the photography market. But I think that is going to change.
A couple of days ago I saw this (Link here) a 3D printed spool to adapt 35mm film for 120 cameras. Although this is not a new idea, it is a new way of producing this idea. And it really got me thinking about the possibilities for this.
How hard could it be to make a 3D printed camera? Not hard at all apparently as there are several people who have done it: http://www.instructables.com/id/3D-Printed-Camera-OpenReflex/ This one is free to download the plans for. A 3D reflex camera.
Or perhaps you would rather mess around with pinhole cameras? Well that is easy. http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:157844 A printed pinhole camera. Not too shabby either.
In fact, this chap Todd Schlemmer seems to have really been busy in the lab, making cameras and accessories with his printer http://www.thingiverse.com/schlem/designs/page:1 A massive range of 3D printed wonders.
http://suzuki11.tumblr.com/ Someone has even made a lens, although it is a long way off being anything other than very basic indeed.
In fact, with 3D printers becoming cheaper and more user friendly we are seeing more people tinkering around with them to see exactly what they can make. Pushing the boundaries of the materials to make some very interesting cameras and camera products.
But I don’t think this is where the most fruitful future lies for cameras and 3D printing. You see, there are already loads of wonderful and well designed cameras sitting out there in the world. Many of them are working , but others are in a state of disrepair. This is where I think 3D printing is going to come into its own.
Imagine being able to print out the parts for you broken camera, along with instructions on how to fix it. Or being able to send the files to your service centre and have them print them and replace them. All of those old cameras all of a sudden being able to come back to life and be put to use again.
But why should it stop there? What about being able to print out adapters for formats that no longer exist, so that they could run on the film available now? Or even lens mounts and helicoids so that you could take those old lenses and adapt them for your cameras.
Obviously this is not going to be something that you could do on modern cameras, as I am sure that Nikanonpusony would be rather unhappy with people printing bits and pieces for their current range. I am of course referring to those cameras that you just cannot get parts for any longer. The old cameras that have been out of commission for a while.
This is where the 3D printer will come into its own. As the technology begins to mature you are going to see more detail and more precise printing, which will be closer and closer to the tolerances needed for camera parts. It is not quite there yet for the smaller parts, but I am certain it will be before long.
Gone will be the days of going into a repair shop and them telling you they don’t have the parts. They will just go onto the database, find the part numbers and print them.
The possibilities are really endless, as long as you can afford a 3D printer of course.
What do you think? What would you like to see being 3D printed?