Sex

We Made a Dildo with Aldi's 3D Printer

Artisanal dildo makers just got a hot new rival.

by Michael Segalov
Jan 16 2019, 8:15pm

The author (left) and Emma designing the dildo. Photos: VICE

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

I'm going to level with you: I'd intended to write something insightful here as an introduction because that's generally what writers do, but let's just get straight to the point. Aldi is selling a 3D printer for the reasonable price of £299 [$385], so I asked the discount supermarket chain to send me one so that (unbeknownst to them) I could print a dildo with it and see if it was any good.

Why? Well, for lots of reasons. First, realistically: What else are you going to print with a 3D printer that you can actually use? Second, because if you're into dildos, this is presumably a cheaper way to a) design and build your own artisanal sex toy; and b) do so multiple times, endlessly, as long as you can afford to buy some new 3D printer filament every now and then. Third, experts say that, by 2020, the sex toy industry will be worth £24 billion [$30 billion] globally—and it would be nice to have a slice of that, wouldn't it?

Preparing the Printer

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Setting up the 3D printer itself was actually surprisingly easy, with (and I appreciate these may not be the correct technical terms) "a flat bit where the printing happens" and "a tall bit that does the printing" all slotting together with very helpful labels that tell you what goes where. Once it's all pieced together, little springs underneath the printing surface need to be aligned so everything is level—again, a surprisingly simple task. I slotted in the included SD card loaded with pre-drawn designs and used the touchscreen to select "unicorn."

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The unicorn

The printer whirred into action and, lo and behold, a mere 90 minutes later, a tiny plastic unicorn head had appeared before my very eyes! Now acquainted with the machine, I was ready for my colleague Emma to join me for a dildo design consultation.

My rating: 10/10. If you order a 3D printer from Aldi and want me to help you put it together, I'd be very happy to.

Designing a Dick

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Emma (left) and the author

Thanks to a handy website called dildo-generator.com, a total lack of expertise in 3D printing is no barrier of entry for my nascent sex toy start-up. Taking a seat in my private consultation chamber (a meeting room in a large open plan office, made entirely out of glass), Emma and I got to work. Length, girth, ribs-for-her-pleasure, and curvature were all pretty straightforward.

"I designed this dildo to the best of my ability, given the time [five minutes], tools [software I was not at all familiar with], and creative energy [minimal] at my disposal," Emma explained. "I want to be clear here in saying this is NOT my ideal dildo. Does it resemble a butt plug? Yes, because I could only get the software to design symmetrical objects. I put a curve in it as a distinguishing factor, but, again, I was limited by fear of breaking the machine. I also made it 'sexy purple' in homage to the two biggest pervs of pleasure I know: Lovehoney and Prince."

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Within 20 minutes we had a phallus file designed and ready to go. It was then time to open another free piece of software, Cura, which takes a 3D design and works out how to build your creation, using some coding I am not going to pretend I understand.

Emma's rating: 9/10. Incredibly fun and, even though our design was quite simple, it really illuminated the realm of possibility for things you can do with a 3D printer.

The Dildo Itself

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The dildo mid-print

Having never seen a 3D printer IRL until my machine arrived, I had no idea how printing something not-on-paper actually happened. Using Aldi's version, at least, plastic tubing is fed through a moving, heated nib, and slowly melts as it works its way through the hole and onto another heated surface. Layer by layer, the design comes to life. So, when I pressed print on our dreamy dildo, I was excited to see a dick appear from nothing before my very eyes. However, it turns out that watching a 3D printer print a hefty dildo is at first remarkable, and then very quickly becomes incredibly dull: The machine estimated it would be 15 hours before the process was completed.

By this point it was 7:30 PM and nearly everyone in the office had left. I headed home, and thought a lot about what my editor would say to the insurance company if the printer caught fire overnight.

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The finished dildo

At 10 AM the next morning, however, there was no smoke to be seen in the office. Even better, most of a 3D-printed dildo had appeared. By 11 AM, the tip had rounded itself off.

First thoughts: It was surprisingly light! It looked like something you might put into a hole for fun! Yes, it felt a little rough, but with a bit of sanding and the use of a condom, I couldn't help but wonder whether this might well be the future. Who needs to buy sex toys when you can print them yourself, very publicly, while at work? I left it on Emma's desk, ready for her to take on a test drive.

My rating: 10/10. It’s a great dildo! And a lovely way to make new friends at work! Thank you, the generous PR team at Aldi, for helping me make Emma's dildo dream come true. I’ll be taking orders via Twitter from this afternoon—please do get in touch.*

Emma's rating: "2/10. At first glance, it had potential. Despite its disconcerting shape and weight, it was easily the most erotic item in the office. Then I took it home, where it felt depressing. The clinical white; the fact that the grain runs in such a way that when you run your nail down the length of it, it feels like scraping a thousand tiny washboards; the incredibly sharp point on top. Even sheathed, this wasn't something I even wanted to contemplate putting near my genitals. Nice ornament, though. It now lives on my bookshelf next to a fern and a book of Mark Fisher essays."

*Please actually don't. Also, if anyone would like to buy a 3D printer, DM me.

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