Two 3D Printing Downers
Fabbaloo posted on November 15, 2012 | 2451 views

We've just read not one, but two articles from reputable publications that appear to dismiss the notion of personal 3D printing. TechCrunch's Jon Evans wrote "3D Printers Are Not Like 2D Printers: A Rant", while Scientific American's Gary Stix wrote "3-D Printing: The Great American Tchotchke Machine". 

Stix's premise is that personal 3D printers are not particularly useful and would typically be used to print tchotchkes (a slavic word meaning trinkets). He says: 

The ability to create the tchotchke of your choice doesn’t seem to  measure up exactly to the changes wrought at work and home by XyWrite, Visicalc or other early PC applications.


Having a tchotchke maker in the basement workshop or the family room seems like kind of a non-starter. The world is not hankering after more hands-on access to a wonderful world of clutter.

Meanwhile, Evans says: 

People. Listen. 3D printing is not just 2D printing with another dimension added on. Yes, the names are very similar, but their uses are not even remotely analogous. We may reasonably conclude, therefore, that 1) 3D printing will not recapitulate the history of 2D printing, 2) as soon as you make an argument along those lines you lose all credibility and look like an idiot. 

Read the Entire Article on Fabbaloo.

[Ed. comment; Kyle Maxey]

If I can interject for just a minute here, I’d like to point out that I think both authors are missing the mark. Sure, companies like Shapeways and Materialize are opening up the world of 3D printing to the cluttering of our homes with trinkets, but that’s not really the end game, is it?

When I think of 3D printing from a mechanical and industrial design perspective, I can see that home-based 3D printing has a large and vibrant future. Tools, goods and all manner of useful things might one day be available in a marketplace like Amazon where people can buy a model and print it right then and there. This type of “on-demand” market could mean great things for energy savings, cost structures and a myriad of barriers that prevent goods from getting into consumers’ hands.

Dismissing the idea of home-based 3D printing because the current incarnation of the market creates superfluous junk is short sighted.  One day 3D printing won’t look like it does today, and I image that day will arrive sooner than we think.  I think that instead of poo-pooing the notion of home-based 3D printing we should be searching for ways to make it a plausible and meaningful reality. 

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