by Stephen Dafoe
stephen@morinvillenews.com

A Morinville business owner is bringing his expertise and passion for 3D printing to the Morinville Community Cultural Centre each week starting Apr. 5. Chris Logan of Imagination Technology Inc. will run a 3D Printing Club on Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., giving those interested in the emerging technology some hands-on experience with some state-of-the-art equipment.

“It allows you to use your creativity to create the items that you think of,” Logan said of the possibilities 3D printing open up. “It’s limitations are only the limits of your imagination. Being in the industry at the forefront of it with my company, I thought it would be a very good idea to do it [the club] here.”

But there is more to 3D printing than creative expression. Logan said there was a practical side to it as well. In his home, he has been able to reproduce one-off pieces, including a shower door handle and other items that had broken and were impossible to replace.

“Part of having the club is giving them the ability to have access to this equipment and teaching them to use it properly,” Logan said, adding participants will learn how to create 3D models with software, the printers, and the biodegradable filament the machines use.

The filament Logan uses to create 3D items is made from polylactic acid, a transparent variety made from sugar and starch, and an opaque variety made from rice and starch.

“It is 100 per cent biodegradable,” Logan said. “In a commercial landfill, it takes about six months to degrade totally. It’s completely safe. Anybody handling it doesn’t have to worry about any toxic fumes.”

Logan said the Apr. 5 launch will be a no cost event. After that, participants will pay $40 per month. All of the money will go back into the club for supplies, and he is hoping the club will eventually be self-funding, creating a no cost experience for the members.

“There is a site called 3D Hub, and through that site there are designers and people looking to have things they’ve created made, but they don’t necessarily have a 3D printer,” Logan explained. “They upload them to this site, and you print for them and send it all over the world. Any of the printers that the club uses – that funding will go right back into the club.”

The club is presently limited to 40 people, but if interest is sufficient, Logan said he’ll do his best to accommodate more.

Although children 12 and under are welcome, they will need to be accompanied by an adult.

He sees the opportunity as one of particular interest to local teens.

“I think it’s a very good starting point for them. This is the way moving forward in the future. By the time they enter the workforce, I can tell you right now with the way the technology is moving; this will almost be mainstream manufacturing,” Logan said. “It’s moving that way at a rapid rate.”

3D printing, specifically the manufacturing side, is reducing the time from conception to end product. “You do not have a lot of middlemen in between,” Logan said. “You don’t have to worry about shipping it from China.”

Imagination Technology Inc., Logan’s company that he runs with his family, has a warehouse operation in Vancouver but is headquartered in Morinville.

The business began when Logan had to design some pieces for the industry he works in full time.

“From there it really kind of clicked with me and once I bought the machine, I didn’t stop with it,” he said, adding the company has distribution rights for Canada for a couple of different brands of 3D printer.”

Those interested in coming out to the club Apr. 5 can pre-register online at http://imaginationtechnology.ca/products/imagination-club or come to the Morinville Community Cultural Centre that night at 6 p.m. The club will run for two hours each week on Tuesdays.

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