3D technology comes to Milford Rotary

MILFORD – Most people think of 3D printing as a novelty – a fun technology for making toys and other small items.

Pete Basiliere was at the Milford Rotary’s meeting last week to dispel that idea and show some of the important things that industrial 3D manufacturing technology is making.

Like hearing aids – Basiliere was wearing two of them and said 3D printing has revolutionized the manufacturing of devices that a growing number of people will need as baby boomers age.

Other medical devices that can be made with 3D technology include replacement hips, spinal discs and prosthetic hands.

In this country, a prosthetic hand costs about $50,000, a price that makes them completely out of reach for most people in war-torn countries. But with 3D printing, they can be made locally and far more economically, part of what Basiliere called the “democratization of manufacturing,” which allows products to be manufactured locally and “with true personality.”

He used a slide show to explain the process of additive technology and showed a table-full of items made with 3D printers, including jewelry and cookies.

A 3D printer is a type of industrial robot. Additive processes occur when successive layers of materials are laid down under a computer’s control.

“Plastic and chocolate are ideal materials” for this technology, Basiliere said.

The kinds of industrial printers he talks about cost up to $5 million, while the consumer printers now located at the Wadleigh Memorial Library and Milford High School are far less.

The technology also allows companies to bring work back to the United States, because it’s no longer cost-effective to do it offshore.

“What’s exciting about having printers at the Wadleigh and in high school,” he said, is there are students coming out of school who are familiar with additive manufacturing.

Basiliere is a research vice president for Gartner, Inc., in Stamford, Conn., an information technology research and development company, as well as Milford’s town and school moderator.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100, or kcleveland@cabinet.com.