2014.06.01

New Matter

Being a maker, creative, designer, artist, whatever, you may tend to have a different perspective on things. When I moved to designing things with a computer (instead of on paper) over 20 years ago, I still wanted to have things on paper, so printing things made sense. I used to go to service bureaus to have nice prints made, and eventually I got a good (enough) printer at home that allowed me to design and print all on my own.

The first night I ever got hands-on with a 3D printer, my questions were about designing things with it. and I used software to design something and then we printed it. This, I believe, is the maker way. Now, contrasting this with selling points of the New Matter MOD-t, which is (of course) “a 3D printer for everyone”, I have to wonder if 3D printing really is for everyone…

Maybe it makes sense, as 3D printing is definitely a disruptive technology, but I often think that there’s a lot of hype. Here’s what they say:

What if you could send a physical object to a friend like a text message? What if you could subscribe to a series of objects like you do with a podcast? What if adjusting a 3D model was as easy as Instagramming a photo?

Wow, that would be awesome to come home and see my printer has yet another whistle sitting on it. (Kidding!) But really, subscribe to a series of objects? Instagramming an object? These are all things that have more to do with software and distribution than with 3D printing. In fact, you can (sort of) do all those things now. I’m wondering if the “Consumer” 3D printer will be like the inkjet printers we have today. Just sort of “there” and not something people think much about.

Remember Gutenberg, the dude who introduced printing to Europe?

…the arrival of mechanical movable type printing introduced the era of mass communication which permanently altered the structure of society. The relatively unrestricted circulation of information — including revolutionary ideas — transcended borders, captured the masses in the Reformation and threatened the power of political and religious authorities…

That’s some revolutionary stuff, there! In fact, it sounds a little like the Internet. Sure, people may tell you that the Internet is for cat videos and to see where your friends are currently getting drunk, but that’s the silly stuff. There’s some big-picture things that you may not be aware of if you missed the early years of the web (1994 to 2004).

I see the power of 3D printing for creative people first, for those who have ideas about creating things, and improving things, and changing lives, and yes, eventually it’ll become mainstream and some stupid person will send someone a 3D model of their genitalia so they can 3D print it, you know, just like a text message.

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