Even though 3D printing technology has been around since the early 1980s, it wasn't until the past few years that news about its potential caught the attention of the mainstream consumer. Though the technology still comprises a small corner of the manufacturing sector, 3D printing analyst firm Wohlers Associates estimated that the industry grew by 31% annually from 2014-2020.
Traditional manufacturers are taking a second look at 3D printing for several reasons: faster production, cost-effectiveness and less waste among them. 3D printing is also a much more nimble technology than conventional manufacturing. Recently, several 3D printing companies pivoted their bottom line to help COVID-19 efforts, developing 3D printed oxygen valves and hands-free door handle attachments.
Though 3D printing has yet to make a splash in the cannabis industry, one company in Seattle, Washington, is embracing the technology. Brothers Al and Saul Jacobs, both of whom have backgrounds in the fine arts (Saul is a glass artist), started their business PrintABowl to create customizable pipes and bongs.
Printing quality smoking accessories
While the products themselves are not 3D printed, the ceramic molds made to shape them are. However, if you are up to spending about $200-$700, with a little creativity and some open-source searching, you could print your own bongs or pipes at home.
In fact, spending a bit more money to buy that 3D printer — or at the very least buy glass products made in America or Canada — is a good move to support the legal cannabis industry. As access to legal cannabis in the U.S. has increased, local markets have been flooded with cheap glass from countries with low-quality control standards, like India and China.
Glass operations in China, for example, often bypass labor and safety standards, making the product much more likely to break, crack or change color. In the short term, you probably paid less for your glass. But in the long run, it is much more likely to break.
How to print your own bong
Luckily, there are plenty of places to find open-source, free designs to 3D print your own bongs at home. You can check out sites like YouMagine, Shapeways, Thingiverse and 3DWarehouse for ideas.
With a 3D printer at home, you can get creative making bongs with other people's designs, and maybe even come up with a few designs of your own. You can also use the printer to make other cool stuff, from cable organizers to salt and pepper shakers.
Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps