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A Bid To Take 3D Printing Mainstream 143

Posted by samzenpus
from the grandma's-printed-cookies dept.
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Can 3D printing go truly mainstream? Startup M3D is betting on it, having launched a Kickstarter campaign to create what it terms the first truly consumer 3D printer, built around proprietary auto-leveling and auto-calibration technology that (it claims) will allow the device to run in an efficient, easy-to-use way for quite some time. According to The Verge, the device is space-efficient, quiet, and sips power: 'One of the main obstacles between 3D printers and consumers has been clunky, unintuitive software. Here too, M3D promises improvements, having designed an app that's 'as interactive and enjoyable as a game' with a minimalist and touch-friendly interface.' Do you think 3D printing can capture a massive audience, or will it remain niche for the foreseeable future?"
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A Bid To Take 3D Printing Mainstream

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  • clunky software? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Whatsisname (891214) on Monday April 07, 2014 @03:26PM (#46686833) Homepage

    One of the main obstacles between 3D printers and consumers has been clunky, unintuitive software

    More like the fact that CAD software packages cost many thousands of dollars, and no good free alternatives exist.

    Or that the printers themselves for commercial grade machines also cost many thousands of dollars.

    Or that mechanical design is inherently challenging and is an expensive skill to develop.

    But nope, just have some big buttons on a touch screen and everything will be groovy.

  • by Molt (116343) on Monday April 07, 2014 @03:39PM (#46686953)

    Over the last few years 3d printing has come on dramatically, it's great for rapid prototyping.

    Unfortunately though the average home user doesn't really have much need for rapid prototyping, and most of the things which come out of current 3d printers just don't look polished enough to appeal. They're still very rough looking, more the type of thing which'd come out of a Christmas cracker than the type of thing most people would want as decor.

    In terms of software I don't think a more user-friendly 3d editor will help too much. I view 3d product design as similar to writing software, you can make it more accessible but most people are just going to be interested in the library of things other people have developed. Make a library of designs which the average person (not the average current 3d printer owner, they're more enthusiast) will find interesting, attractive, and useful and maybe you'll break the mainstream- until then it's the realm of the tinkerer and the hacker. Most people don't need or want a print out of the Stanford rabbit.

    I'm not saying this isn't of interest or use, I may have pledged for one myself if I didn't find paying the import duties to the UK to be so painful (Anyone want to Kickstart a business importing other business' Kickstarters?), but it's still just another 3d printer. I don't think it's the type of thing I'd be recommending to my parents and neighbours though, I just don't think they'd want to deal with the hassles that 3d printers currently bring in exchange for the benefits. How much 3d printing do most people actually need?

    What I do see as becoming more popular is the shared printer. People at home make orders for larger and well-finished 3d objects selected from a catalogue and printed on a very nice printer, and they either post them or make them available for collection at central points. I know businesses like Shapeways do this already but the price isn't right for most people yet, it needs to be the case where printing a vase isn't that much more expensive than buying one, and printing a piece to fix your plumbing should be easily affordable.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 07, 2014 @03:42PM (#46686971)
    Most people just want to be able to download an object from the internet and print it out.
    Missing a part for that new 'some assembly required' doodad that you bought? Hit their website and print it out.
    Cheap plastic part snapped under abusive strain? Print out a new one.
    Cool new gun design available on the internet? Print it out and fire, fire, fire away!
    3D printing will really hit the big time when it is cheap and good enough for stuff like this. People designing and prototyping things is a niche market and not enough to advance the technology quickly. It's like trying to market CD burners only to recording artists.
  • by Sique (173459) on Monday April 07, 2014 @03:46PM (#46687023) Homepage
    More like the fact that until affordable 3D printing comes along, there is no point in having CAD software targeted at non-professionals. Intuitive CAD software is missing because there never was any demand for it outside of people who actually liked to write CAD packages as a hobby.
  • 2D printer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fph il quozientatore (971015) on Monday April 07, 2014 @05:47PM (#46688249) Homepage
    So you mean they will soon get as clunky and unreliable as 2D printers?

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