When my six year old son saw a 3D printer running for the very first time, he called the filament "silk" since the layer-by-layer process reminded him of a spider building its web. His observation on FDM 3D printing was not far-fetched. 3D printers are often compared to nature's organic builders such as spiders, wasps, and coral. The additive process of growing nests, webs, and other natural structures is also symbolic of the growing networks being established in the 3D printing community, where institutions, industries and individuals are branching off into new directions to explore what 3D printing has to offer.

Established by Joe Bloomfield in late 2014, Spyder 3D World is both a result and reflection of 3D printing's growth.

"With a background in plastics, I've been watching the emergence of 3D printing as the next frontier in manufacturing. The last two years especially have seen exponential growth in the industry and it was time to get involved," says Bloomfield.

More than a useful resource for 3D printing tips and tricks, Spyder 3D World is one part education, one part social network and one part 3D model repository. Users can add friends, join groups, leave comments, contribute 3D models and add entries into the site's designer, local printer and maker club databases.

"Truth is I'm an inventor at heart and have always tinkered with things," says Bloomfield. "This is what most appeals to me about 3D printing, the ability to design and manufacture your own product at home, whatever that may be, from a toy to a car part."

Editorially, instead of placing focus on 3D printers and products, Bloomfield draws attention to the makers themselves, most notably students who inspire other youngsters toward a future that includes 3D printing. The site's S3D Academy offers educational material which can also serve as a curriculum guide. Subject matter includes introductory study and 3D theory, slicing software and properly configuring a printer to achieve good results. Enrolled students can earn points and appear on an honor roll.

"One of the reasons the site focuses in part on young makers is because of the imagination and creativity I've seen in kids," says Bloomfield. "They see possibilities, not constraints, and we want the community to support and foster that."

To help proliferate 3D printing among young maker communities, users can register to win a SeeMeCNC Rostock Max v2 3D printer. The contest is just one of many promotional offerings planned for the future.

"I believe that this technology will change the world in ways we can't even imagine yet. We're excited to be in the mix," says Bloomfield.

Spyder 3D World is a relatively young site, but it is poised for growth as users sharing Bloomfield's passion continue to contribute information and genuinely useful 3D models.