What ‘gets my goat’ about 3D printing?

It’s not the hyped expectations: “It took 6 hours just to print that small thing?!”

It’s not the overnight prints that mysteriously fail overnight.

It’s not the frustration of finding your perfect design isn’t perfect and needs changes for tolerance, weird lopsidedness or simply gravity.

What ‘gets my goat’ about 3D printing is this:

People think it’s just a toy!

A toy! It makes my grind my teeth.

3D printing is not a toy! A serious business that serious businesses invest in.

Think Construction and Architecture (WinSun).

Think Aerospace ( Airbus Industries).

Think Space (Nasa).

But what if it was just a toy? Just suppose, eh?

Now there’s nothing against toys. I liked them a lot as a youngster. They often work as simplified versions of the real thing. With the same principles. What you learn with a toy hammer you can apply with a real hammer, thumbs included.

Take gunpowder. A great Chinese invention that was initially used as fireworks, toys in other words. Yet it went on to become a key part of medieval warfare and led to advancements in casting and metallurgy. Not at toy now.

Take the steam engine. Invented in the 1st century AD and treated as toy novelty until the 17th Century. Not at toy now.

Take the laser. Originally considered the “solution looking for a problem”, a perfect toy. Yet now we find it cropping up all over the place from disc players, fibre optics, to surgical instruments. Not at toy now.

No technology is an island, it mixes, merges and intertwines with other scientific developments and its usage grows accordingly. This is happening right now with 3D printing.

So please, I ask you, don’t deride 3D printing as a mere toy. Despite its limitations it is a great and versatile technology and will find growing use in medicine, robotics, and many other fields as well.

Is there something that ‘gets your goat’ too? I wonder what it might be…

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