If you really think about it, mainstream media will usually report on either 3D Printing related startup companies that “aim to change the world” in one way or another, or on an exotic 3D Printer that can print buildings or glass structures. And this is causing, at least in part, the distorted public image concerning 3D printing, and the fad that accompanies it.
Many of my classmates, in fact, almost all comment that I have an extreme, complicated and expensive hobby when they want to talk (or I talk) about my 3D Printer.
There are a lot of people, firms, and startups, that are taking advantage of the image the people have created around 3D Printing. Even though anyone that is using a RepRap/Prusa printer will tell you otherwise, the image of 3D Printing as an exotic and expensive commodity is prevalent in the majority of the people.
In this essay, I want to point out and scold these people and the practices they use to trick people. Each type of person is progressively worse, in my opinion, than the previous, and the final one is the one worthy of exile.
Maybe my views on this matter differ from that of the entire community or maybe my juvenile intolerance has caused me to have such radical and audible opinions, seeing how I am only 16 years old. With that in mind, I will still write this article as I believe that there are certain facts that have to be pointed out, to maintain and strengthen the community of friendly, helpful, and passionate makers that dominate and comprise the 3D printing scene.
I want to add that this whole essay goes against my philosophy in life, called who-gives-a-shit-ism, but neither have I fully endorsed this practice yet nor will I leave these people remain un-scolded.
The ones I want to condemn are:
1. Restaurant made entirely of 3D Printed stuff
Every now and then I stumble into an article that describes an restaurant that 3D-prints all its meals. All is okay so far, nothing new for me, until I read a bit further down: “Everything is 3D Printed, from the food to the chairs to the tables” (Can’t remember the direct quote and I don’t have access to the article as of right now). What immediately crossed my mind, and I even left as a comment, is:
WHY?! 3D Printing is traditionally used and is cost efficient only when building a small number of small prototypes. If one wants to build 20 or more identical chairs, and 5 or more full-sized tables, it is more than stupid to 3D Print them all. It is exploitative of the image the public has formed of 3D Printing, even if this is a false use of this technology. At least make a mold out of the first print and make the rest that way. I’ll let you guys scold me through comments 😉
2. People who charge way too much for garbage-quality 3D Prints.
I have already touched upon this subject in a previous article, and people responded saying that “these companies do not only charge the plastic used, you also pay for the use of the printer, the person in charge, the electricity used, and all the other expenses a legal firm has”. I completely agree with this statement, there is nothing wrong with that. I even charge more than the plastic I used. But when I pay top-price, I expect top quality.
This is not the case for a friend of mine, who was sold broken parts and fairy tales by a Greek firm, that claimed that “3D Printing is a hard and risky process” and broken parts happen frequently. Don’t believe me? Here are some photos of the prints below.
If you do not believe me, ask me in PM or in person. Because of legal reasons, I can disclose neither the Person’s name, the company’s name, or the price (s)he pay. To give a perspective though, it was about 12 times the cost of the plastic, and 6 times the price another firm offered. They exploited my friend’s naivety and didn’t hesitate to do so.
Do you know see what I mean? They don’t even have curves or supports, they are simple extrudes. They even failed to make the fins go in the gear which was a specific request. How incompetent can one be?!
3. People who say that they “made” their own 3D Printers
(when that is total bullshit)
These people are the absolute worse. You can understand my view by how much I have written about it.
I am not talking about the people who actually design their printer from the frame to its motion, order the parts, assemble it, and test it. These people are awesome and I envy them.
But, I hate with all my spirit the people who go around and say they “made” their 3D Printers, when in fact they either downloaded STL’s with instructions from sites like RepRap, or even worse ordered kit printers and assembled them. I have met some of these people up close, and I can say they are as shady as they seem.
Of course I cannot name anyone in particular, but there is this one kid that claims he built both his 3D Printer and a humanoid robot (with no direct mention of how it is an InMoov robot, whose parts, assembly instructions, and wiring instructions are available online).
These people are the scum and the shame of the 3D Printing community and should never be taken seriously by anyone. They are laughed at by the 3D Printing community, but the general public believes them and even looks up to them.
These people go against the principles of Making. They are in the same level as small children playing with Lego’s; in the same level of honesty, maturity, responsibility, complexity, originality, and effort. They even use the same material for Christ’s sake.
Thank god that, at least, everyone of higher authority (like STEM competition organizers) recognize their attempts to seem mightier than they truly are and do not let them deceive them. True story hiding right there.
The whole confusion originates from the use of the word “made”. It is just so broad and generic that everyone uses it, but the people that want to seem mighty never specify. They say they “made” the printer, and are of no fault grammatically, but the public gets mesmerized because of what they think “made” means and includes.
I have the same problem almost every day. I sometimes print some stuff that I take to school to post-process. That is why I have either slept in or skipped many morning lessons (my grades suffered accordingly). People always ask me “did you make this?”. If I designed and printed it from scratch, I proudly say “Yes”. If it is a model that I downloaded off of Thingiverse, I either say: “No, I just printed it” or “yes, but only printed it, did not design it”. This is the right thing to do.
Okay, this is the end of my hate speech. I will be following this up with a list of people and organizations that use 3D Printing for an ethical or all-round correct way. But for now I leave with this: