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American 3D Printing makes the virtual real

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By Deb Hurley Brobst

Architects: Say you want to quickly get a model of a home, so a potential buyer can see a scale model rather than just the drawings.

Artists: Say you want to make a small replica of a sculpture.

Bakers: Say you want to top a wedding cake with likenesses of the bride and groom.

Parents: Say you want furniture pieces for a dollhouse that are exact replicas of furniture in your house.

All of these are possible at Evergreen’s American 3D Printing.

“Everybody needs 3D printing,” owner Jeff Zepp said. “Most people just don’t know it yet.”

Zepp, who lives in Kittredge, defined three-dimensional printing as fabricating an item in plastic from a computer file, and the possibilities are endless. Zepp even has the capability of creating a replica of a person by walking around the model with a sensor and creating a three-dimensional image that the printer can reproduce.

The 3D images are made from a plastic filament that is heated by the printer and squirted into the shapes. Zepp likened it to a hot-glue gun, only much more precise. Watching the printer operate is mesmerizing.

Zepp says children love to come in and watch the printers operating. He keeps a stool handy, so they can be at eye level with the printers.

An Evergreen High School teacher stopped in to talk about creating a Cougars and Conifer High School Lobos chess set, he said.

“Once people see what (these printers) can do, the wheels start churning,” he said.

The plastic comes in 21 colors, and it can be painted. It’s plant-based, so it’s biodegradable, nontoxic and waterproof.

Zepp has spent the last several months learning the software necessary to create 3D images. It’s been a steep learning curve, but he says 3D printing is the wave of the future, just like personal computers were in the 1980s.

He’s also found that there are few 3D printing stores that people can walk into to get what they want. He’s open his store in Canyon Commons along Evergreen Parkway, and he says a lot of children bring their parents in to see the equipment.

Right now, he spends much of his time educating people on what the printers can do. He makes trinkets and hands them out to get people interested.

One day last week, he designed and was making plastic brackets to hold a car battery in place. Zepp designed and 3D printed brackets.

He also sells 3D printers and the printing supplies. Printers are becoming more affordable, he said.

His printers can make items that are a foot high and 9 inches wide. He charges $15 to $20 an hour, depending on the project, and the time it takes to print something depends on its size, density and how detailed it is. Students with an ID get half off.

For more information, stop in the store at 4007 Evergreen Parkway, or visit www.American3DPrinting.net or call 303-674-4044.