The ability to print your own custom lures may be closer on the horizon than you think.
Many of you have probably heard of 3D printing, at least in passing, at some point in the recent past. However, you might not be clear on exactly what it is.
In its simplest terms, 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is a process of making three dimensional items via a digital file. The 3D printer continually adds new layers of material to the item until the entire object has been created.
The digital files are created using computer assisted design (CAD) software similarly to how engineers design products and objects prior to any manufacturing process. It is also possible to use a 3D scanner to scan an object and create a digital file from the resulting image.
Once the object is completed on the computer, the software virtually slices the object into hundreds, or even thousands of pieces, depending on the object's size. The 3D printer then reads each individual slice and creates the object from that information.
Image via Wikimedia Commons.
There are several different types of 3D printers and even more detailed information on the process, but instead of getting into a technical discussion of the science behind the printing, let's talk about what this technology means for us as anglers. Are we going to be able to print our favorite lures using these devices? Will it save us money? Will the lures still catch fish?
The answer to all three of those questions is yes. However, there are a couple of catches. One of the main hurdles between an angler and printing their own lures is the heavy initial cost of a 3D printer and all the necessary equipment. 3D printers are currently in the range of a couple thousand dollars, which is probably too expensive for many anglers to seriously consider.
Luckily, as the technology advances, the price of 3D printers will eventually come down. While you wait for that to happen, it may be a good idea to start learning how to use computer design software now if you want to eventually start designing and printing your own custom lures.
Until then, there are companies like PrintLure who will save anglers from all that trouble. This company is based on 3D printing biodegradable, artificial lures that will sell for half the price of other top-of-the-line lures. Anglers will eventually be able to design their own lures online via the company's website and have them printed, as well as share the designs with other anglers around the world.
As for still catching fish, there is no reason that any 3D printed lure will necessarily fail to catch fish. It is simply a new way to manufacture fishing lures and has no bearing on the performance of the lure.
The same tried and true designs and colors will still be made, only at a much lower cost to the consumer. At the same time, the cheaper and more efficient method of 3D printing lures could also lead to new innovations as more companies are willing to experiment with new lure designs.
The cost of fishing lures is nothing to be scoffed at by most anglers, and potentially losing a favorite fishing lure is also always a concern. The 3D printing of fishing lures will help to alleviate those problems. The price of lures will continue to decrease, as the quality increases, and it will eventually be possible to have a favorite lure saved on a computer or the internet for quick replacement in the event of a snag or other fishing mishap that leads to a lost lure.
The benefits to the environment and the waterways that biodegradable, 3D printed lures provide are also a welcome advantage to anglers.
The possibilities really are endless in the world of 3D printing and that is a good thing for anglers all over the world. The technology continues to advance every day and it won't be long until the days of paying exorbitant prices for certain types of lures will be a thing of the past. Well... for the most part at least.
So embrace the world of 3D printing and get ready to fill your tackle boxes with a variety of new lures on the cheap. I know that I sure am.
Are you excited about 3D printing in how it relates to the fishing community? Start the discussion in the comments section below.