My new 3D printer arrived on Friday, 12/13, and I’ve been printing stuff with it ever since. The idea that I can have a device sitting on my desk that will print out three dimensional objects that I design or download from Thingiverse is simply amazing. I sit here and watch it while it prints stuff and the possibilities blow my mind.
I’ve been thinking about buying a 3D printer for quite a while, ever since I took that 3D printing class at AS220, and several times I got really close to buying one the MakerBot Replicators but something always held me back (maybe it was the fact that if I spent $2000+ on a piece of hardware I felt I’d absolutely have to have a good reason for purchasing one). But when I read about the Printrbot Simple in Make’s Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing 2014 I knew that this was the first printer for me. At $399 it’s not such a big outlay of cash that I feel I have to be using it every day and, based on talking to people at the monthly Providence 3D printer meeting, its quality and build size are adequate for experimentation.
I know very little about the current 3D consumer printer industry right now but I can’t help shake the feeling that at this point it resembles the microcomputer industry of the 70s and early 80s. Back then you had ten, twenty, maybe thirty companies offering their own version of the personal computer, each jockeying for market share and acceptance. A lot of them fell by the wayside as the industry in the US consolidated on the machines offered by Apple, Commodore, Atari, and the IBM PC. Further consolidation led us to the the Windows/Macintosh hegemony that prevailed in the 90s.
Whether or not the 3D printer will follow the same path remains to be seen. I don’t know if there’s a killer app for 3D printing (there might be several for all I know) but I felt I had to take the plunge now while the industry is in its early stages so I can learn more and possibly be a part of it.