EDEN PRAIRIE - This week in our Behind the Scenes series we are taking a look at the art of 3D printing. Pete Saari is the owner of Foreverence in Eden Prairie. They are using 3D printing to make unique urns.

Photo: Joshua Akkerman, WJON

"I think the technology has turned the corner both in terms of design accuracy as well as material properties," says Saari, "Thinking back to three, five years ago it would print in a very crude gypsum product, or just a white, not very accurate plastic."

Saari says it may sound strange to be printing urns, but he believes they are bringing comfort and joy to peoples' lives.

"Most often our pieces are not for the person, they are for the people that are left behind to enjoy. It's something that's very symbolic or emblematic of the person who passed away so that's kind of what drives us," says Saari.

Photo: Joshua Akkerman, WJON

You can see some of the urns they've made below.

Let's go through the process. First a design is needed. Saari says this usually is the longest part of the process. For now let's use my camera as the design. Saari says it would take about ten days to render a design, print the product, and finish it in post process. Once a CAD file is fed into the machine, the printing process begins.

"What's happening here is there is a giant bed of ceramic powder. This item is building with this arm moving back in forth," says Saari, "It's building by laying down layer after layer. When the item is done, that bed of powder will look kind of like it does at the beginning."

Once it's done printing you have to remove the ceramic powder from the item. That is done in the suctioning box with a little air blower that helps clean off all the powder. Then the item moves to the oven to cure.

Once cured, the remaining process depends on how many details the item has. For our piece, the camera, some of the details would have to be done in post-processing. For example the small writing on the camera would not be able to be printed, but it could be painted on.

However, Saari says the magic of 3D printing starts at the beginning.

The magic isn't so much in the build, the magic is in what gets fed into the machine by way of art and design.
Urns Made By Foreverence
(Photo: Joshua Akkerman, WJON)