September 30th, 2012
3D printing is cool and it is going to be really big. But 3D printing is also slow and undoubtedly it will get faster but it does not replace mass manufacturing.
What 3D printing enables is custom manufactured items in small lots, which is fantastic for designers, prototypers, artists, hobbyists and the field of education. It opens up the creation of many types of custom components and building small scale solutions to problems we may not have otherwise touched. It may enable consumers to custom make some small lot household items (at likely greater cost than the mass produced equivalent) and will, to a degree, offer substitutes for mass produced items. 3D printing also opens up small lot manufacturing to address small market needs.
Some enthusiasts are convinced that 3D printing changes the entire world, ends “materialism” (huh?), creates economic opportunities for all and everyone will grow up to become an engineer and roboticist. Hmmm….
Fortunately, the reporter distinguishes between the fantasy and reality and nails the story – good job!
(Hey, I’m a maker too and I go to Maker Faire and so should you!)