Texas companies lead way in 3D printing

ROUND ROCK, TX (KTRK) -- The world of 3D printing is always evolving, and now some Texas companies are some of the movement's leaders.

"It's the same reason we always whip out our cell phones and take pictures of moments going on. We take selfies. We see something interesting in the car. What this is just the evolution of photography," said 3D printing entrepreneur Ryan Brown. "It's going to be like back to the future"

Brown started a company called 3Doppelganger that will scan and replicate any customer's request.

"I've done a car. I've done myself several times," Brown said.

3D printers work a lot like regular printers, but instead of ink they print in whatever material specified.

"All 3D printing is layering. Regardless of how complex the layer is, a layer is fairly simple for a computer to understand. It doesn't spend too much computing time to send a layer to one of these computers," said Barry Calnan, with 3D-Printing Solutions, which printed the models used in our story.

To create a plaster figurine that looks like Brown, the printer will work for a couple of hours. After the product is finished, Brown dusted his mini-me and added color protectant. The final result looks like an accurate representation.

"It definitely shows that I've gained weight," Brown said.

One of the largest 3D printing facilities in the world is just down the interstate at ClearCorrect in Round Rock, Texas.

ClearCorrect technicians have printed clear braces that are made to individual specifications.

"The speed and the accuracy is at a whole new level," said ClearCorrect's Anthony Penketh.

3D printers have created prosthetic hands, historic buildings, a working wrench, and even movable parts. The oil and gas industry uses 3D models for training purposes.

"Rather than them having to look at it on the board and get bored with that - excuse the pun - they can look at this, it's in their hands," said Shaun Smithers, with SubSea Solutions.
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