FORT MYERS, Fla. -- If you've never heard of 3D printing, you won't believe what it can actually do. What if we told you, you could actually make a cell phone case with a printer? Industry experts say there is no limit to what a person can create with this type of technology.
3D printing is amazing. It's something you have to see to believe. Being able to make something like a cell phone case or even a water bottle from a printer is all possible if you have the dream and desire.
It's like no printer you're used to. It uses high tech plastic powders rather than ink to print out real things like a model of a skull for prototyping medical breakthroughs.
When it comes to 3D printing, the sky is the limit. Jewelry, shoes, tools, figurines of famous famous faces, even a 3D model of New York City, all from a printer.
"If you want to do your own custom design, you need to know CAD," said Mark Kemper, President and CEO of E.M.S. in Tampa.
It starts with an idea and CAD. CAD is computer-aided design. If you can learn CAD, anything you can imagine, you can create.
"It definitely has enabled people to do their own custom design and 3D print on low volumes and build stuff," said Kemper.
For someone looking to tinker, Kemper said "They are very affordable. For about $500, buy a kit printer and put it together."
But the more money you spend, the more bang you get for your buck. High end machines will run you between $15,000 and $150,000.
"So it jets it out of a print head in a liquid form, hits it with a UV light, the material reacts to that light and hardens," said Kemper.
Keep in mind, all this printing will take time from beginning to end.
"this probably takes about five, six hours to print because its such nice resolution," said Kemper.
And it's literally changing lives. Lori and Michael Bredemeier used to work in corporate America.
"I worked for AT&T in their networking area for their corporate customers and I worked for Verizon," said the Bredemeiers.
When their oldest child began teething, they put their thinking caps on.
"We were looking for products to kind of help soothe the painful process of teething," said Lori Bredemeier.
But everything they found irritated their child's teeth. Then came the clever creation of Appeteethers. Just like appetizers for babies.
"So we thought how funny would it be to see a baby chewing on something that looks like real food. Our first two models are a chicken wing and a rib," said Lori Bredemeier.
So how did this process even begin? It was thanks to a 3D printing skit the Bredemeiers saw on late night TV.
"They had a feature on a 3D printer product and we thought oh thats great but once you look into it, like he mentioned, you have to go through some pretty time consuming training classes to learn how to use the printer," said Michael Bredemeier.
And time was something this new family didn't have. Enter Tampa based E.M.S., Engineering and Manufacturing Services, with a specialty in 3D printing. The company was able to help the Bredemeier family make their dream a reality.
"There is definitely a barrier for entry for a lot of people that don't know anything about that," said Kemper.
E.M.S. takes care of the barrier by using 3D printers to help small entrepreneurs to big businesses like Disney. For the Bredemeier family, their products can be found on Amazon.com as well as boutiques around the country. Walking away from their corporate nine to five jobs has helped the Bredemeiers become successful entrepreneurs.
"It was definitely very, very scary," said Lori Bredemeier.
It was a risk walking away from those careers, but it's paid off as a lesson in life.
"To have faith and go after something that you really believe in as opposed to continuing to do something thats not necessarily easy but its almost continue on the easy road that you're not necessarily happy doing," said Lori Bredemeier.