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Printer Time

The good news is . . . I am getting a 3D printer.  The bad news, well, I guess we will have to wait to find out but there is a distinct possibility that there isn’t any bad new.  I can tell that some of you are incredulous but for 2 different reasons;

#1 – “I can’t believe it, you don’t already have a 3D printer?!?  I thought you were a technology guy!”

#2 – “I can’t believe it, you are sorta old, how can you be so naive?!?  There is always bad news when it comes to new technology!”

Well #1, I have to admit, I have been intrigued by 3D printing for some time.  Working at the number one printer company in the world, and followed the industry pretty closely.  I seriously considered parting with the $3000 – $5000 it would have cost me to be in the early adopters club back in the day.  But, although I bought into the vision of a world where you could print your own toaster the reality was more like cheap plastic army men.  Maybe when the printers come down to $2000.  It didn’t take long for the prices to drop and the competition to increase.  Then you could print 3 inch Yoda heads or even a cell phone case.  Hmmmm, I do like Yoda . . .  And so it went, years passed.

#2, you don’t mind if I call you #2 do you?  We all know that the first versions of technology are not without . . . challenges.  Look at other examples of early technology like Horseless Carriages, mobile phones and interpretive dance.  And look at them now, they have lead directly to the Tesla Model S, Galaxy Note 7 and Twerking!  So, don’t be too harsh when judging new technology.  I still believe.

When did the horseless carriage become the car?  I’ll tell you.  When everyone had one.  At some point the automobile crossed the threshold between new technology with a vision to something that is affordable and useful to a big chunk of the population.

With 3D printing I was in a unique position (at least in the trajectory of my life).  I was close enough to the technology to understand what was going on and get excited about it but still able to see it from more of a mainstream perspective.  Normally people like me either give in to the Yoda with the rest of the #1’s and hope they don’t look foolish a year or two later, OR, weigh the technology’s vision vs reality, see all that it is lacking and disengage, risking feeling a bit myopic in the next year or two.

But not this time!

The 2 reasons I stepped up to the build plate in January of 2017 are;

I work on a number of electronics projects, I do some of these projects with kids in schools.  There are a bunch of people that put their projects out there so people like me can learn from them which is so great.  Many of these people grab a paintbrush, sewing machine or a 3D printer without a 2nd thought it’s about creating.  At some point they began saying things like  . . . then print out a part like this (and they would give you the file you need to make the part) and use it here . . .  To them it was the same as saying ” . . . then use this code (giving you the file with the code in it) to make the thing to this . . .”  The 3D printer had become a useful tool like a piece of software or a screwdriver to them (and I hope for me).  It’s like when you say to someone “I’ll meet you at the restaurant”.  You just assume they have a car or at least access to one.  The discussion isn’t about automotive technology or the size Yoda you can print, it’s about – pizza, friends and gossip about #1 and #2!

By the way, my new printer cost $200 and can print army men, Yodas AND little boxes for electronics!  Hey, how about we get some pizza and print some cell phone cases for the needy?

4 comments to Printer Time

  • Thom Lawrence

    I am a firm believer in the future of 3-D printing, we have been investing in it for a while. In the future we will print food and shoes and replacement body parts and nano-scale batteries and Earl Grey-hot. I am glad the future is now for you, it is still waiting in the wings for me.

  • theChristys

    I have a couple of dozen prints (and misprints) under my belt now and it’s been a fun experience with enough success to keep going deeper into the rabbit hole. One thing I was not expecting was how rewarding it is to print something on your printer for your printer to fix it or make it better, in the printer world that is called RepRap

  • Thom Lawrence

    What brand of printer did you get?

  • theChristys

    I got this one https://www.monoprice.com/Product?p_id=15365 So far it seems like it was a good choice