A discussion one of my Linkedin groups is on the current hype about ‘a 3D printer in every home‘ and Al Dean (of Develop3D) who started the discussion and Geert Van den Poorten of 3Digit are both very skeptical. Geert remarked that ‘Making/3dprinting something needs a special “maker” mindset that not every one has’. And good thing too as design needs to be a highly regarded profession to attract talented and hard grafting people. This is not to say that making, designing and 3D printing should be an elite mystical practice. Others appreciate talent and skills when they understand how hard the graft that goes into achieving something has to be.

The hype on 3D printing is because what is mostly known about it is from articles with images, from videos, from finished objects, and not from any hands-on experience of actually designing for the technology. Being able to photograph objects with a mobile’s camera and stitch the images together to create a 3D object that is 3D printable is an interesting one as this does not take a special mindset. This is not designing though, neither is the act of ‘customising’ objects that are designed by someone else, manipulated on a website and printed out. The word ‘design’ has been adulterated unfortunately but I do see the ‘personal 3D printer’ placed in schools, workshops and sheds as a great facilitator towards getting more people, involved in designing and enthused about making, especially kids, to nurture the mindset that a designer needs.
As a designer maker, using 3D printing for jewellery units I am waiting impatiently to get Anarkik3D’s ‘personal printer’ for the courses we will run, covering designing for 3D printing as this hands-on opportunity will demonstrate the constraints and principles involved. It is also sufficiently open to experiment and isn’t this just what designer makers want to do.