3D printing has become all the rage over the past five years, primarily because of the huge reduction in cost of the printers themselves that can cost as little as $300, but are typically $1,500 or more.

Many people have legitimately asked the question: What would I do with a 3D printer?

How about this answer: Make your mother very happy.

I recently had two experiences that prove that we can use 3D printers for making more than plastic Yoda statues.

The first item came to me on Mothers Day this year. A video was sent to me that shows a pregnant woman having a sonogram of her unborn baby.

For most people, this is a very exciting time when they get to see what their child will look like, although in a pretty blurry image.

This woman, however, is blind, so the physician was describing the baby to her, comparing the baby's eyes and nose to hers.

Then the physician handed her a 3D printed version of her baby's face. The woman was able to "see" her unborn child in a way she "sees" other things in the world around her. It's a beautiful video and can be watched at http://bit.ly/3dbabyvideo.

I also had a full body scan by Fred Kahl, the Great Fredini (http://thegreatfredini.com). As part of the scan, he sent me a full 3D print statue of myself.

The 3D print is about 7 inches tall, but with the scan he sent me the digital file that was graciously printed in the Maker Space at the Westport Library at about half that size.

I sent one of the large prints to my mother in California. No note inside, just a 3D print in a box.

When she received the box, she opened it up and tried to figure out what it was. She clearly knew it was a person, but the details were sufficient that after just a few seconds, she could tell it was me and started crying.

My mother immediately phoned me to let me know she had received the statue and her response to the gift.

As most parents know, there's nothing we love more than having photos of our children. Now, it's pretty easy to make a 3D printed statue of our loved ones.

About a year ago, I had a 3D scan of my son made. It's in 3D and full color.

Expect that how people memorialize themselves will change over the years. 3D printing is one of those ways.

Someday soon, I expect we'll start seeing Christmas tree ornaments of friends and family members as well as other ways to make a personal connection.

Mark Mathias is a 35-plus year information technology executive and Westport resident. His columns can be read on the Internet at http://blog.mathias.org. He can be contacted at livingwithtechnology@mathias.org.