D2W are getting a little tired of the hype surrounding 3d printing.

More and more industry clairvoyants are emerging who are prophesying the future of the technology. The Mayan apocalypse recently came and went. Those who saw Neil Armstrong land on the moon, are deeply disappointed that they’re not holidaying on Mars wearing clothes made of tin-foil. Nostradamus occasionally gets lucky. Some are still waiting for The Messiah to reappear. The point is, that predicting the future can be entertaining but often futile.

It’s really not fair to single any particular post out, but this recent one is the straw that broke this particular camel’s back. Not only is this pure speculation, it’s also mind numbingly boring and says nothing about what the technology is all about: The Objects.

Of the relatively sane 3d printing prophets, some may be vindicated, but most will inevitably be well wide of the mark. The beauty of the current state of the technology is that nobody can be sure. The one thing that we are certain of, is that the future hinges upon the quality and ingenuity of the objects. The danger is that if the production quality of consumer printers is over stated and all that the public see being produced are banal decorative plastic objects, then the future will have been squandered. At their core, these prophets have their own agendas and are looking to highlight quick and easy niches in which to harvest whatever immediate financial gains they perceive there to be.

Please let’s forget about the speculation, as the future is always a surprise. Simply let us intelligently learn from experience and apply it to the here and now in an effort to push the technology to it’s very limits. That way, the potential for this new technology, whether via consumer or industrial equipment, can be given it’s greatest rein and freedom to be what it can be. What that is? Nobody knows. Let’s revel in the unknown. Let’s challenge the technology to make really incredible things and let the future take care of itself.

In the meantime, if we must, here are D2W’s “Top Ten Predictions for 2013”

  1. Due to general disappointment and subsequent apathy, home printers will become the 504th most common item for sale on Ebay.
  2. 3d Systems will buy several more 3d print related companies and re-name themselves “The Federation.”
  3. A new home printer will be released demonstrating how almost perfectly it can make a Ronald MacDonald chess set.
  4. A genuine ceramic printer will be released that produces melted versions of the original file. This will be marketed as “disruptive technology.”
  5. Having mastered the production of the world’s largest spanner / wrench. The corresponding screwdriver will be produced.
  6. A video of a 3d printer in action will be released, that shows the mythical stage of production that involves human post-processing.
  7. President Obama will pass a law decreeing that all 3d printed guns be un-printed.
  8. Someone will 3d print excrement.
  9. Someone will 3d print horse meat and then add it to a 3d printed lasagne.
  10. Industry gurus will copy and paste all of the above press releases and then express uncontained excitement.

Please feel free to add to our list in the comments section below.

We’re a tiny bit concerned that via posts like this, D2W will gain a reputation for being a little grumpy and down about the industry that we’re a part of. This isn’t true in the slightest. We’re not design elitists or snotty about anyone’s creative urge. We’re delighted to talk about, assist and print anything that anyone has in mind, but most of all we like to be challenged.

We just find ourselves somewhat frustrated by the current general lack of imagination that fuels the media hype. Being lucky enough to work daily with the technology, one learns the currently understood limits of what is possible. Knowing this and being faced with the onslaught of the hype from the prophet fuelled media, is rather like being the little boy in the fable of The Emperor’s New Clothes.

Take the hysteria with a pinch of salt and seek out the people who are producing genuinely amazing objects with the technology and applying them to a weird and wonderful array of applications and be genuinely inspired. These objects are the future of 3d printing.

The prophets and the media want the public to believe that the time is now to announce the resolution of a technology that is ready for everyone to do anything. This is not the case. The truth is that the technology has now evolved to a point where a whole new group of motivated, inspired and creative people can access the technology and push it forward to test it’s limits. The time is now for a genuine WOW!

Jonathan Rowley – D2W Design Director