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The Apple II of 3 D Printing?

It may be 1977 all over again.

Check out the Form 1 Kickstarter page 

The Formlabs home page and their blog.

I recently reviewed Chris Anderson’s book Makers. What 3 D printing needs is the affordable, user-friendly, versatile device to move 3 D printing from the arcane realm of  techno-hobbyist geeks to the general population’s “early adapters”, which will put the next “consumer model” generation on everyone’s office desk; eventually as ubiquitous as cell phones or microwaves.

Formlabs should send one of these to John Robb and Shloky for a product review.

Hat tip to Feral Jundi


7 Responses to “The Apple II of 3 D Printing?”

  1. Chris Says:

    I’m not convinced this is necessarily “The” breakthrough device, but it’s another crack in the wall and sooner or later one of the many low price point 3D printers is going to become mainstream. To me the main point in favour of this particular device is the look of it. It’s elegant and sensibly sized, which MakerBot have traditionally struggled to get right. The higher resolution is also extremely appealing. Well worth watching this video, 1) because it raises lots of the right questions (3D printing + guns = exciting times) 2) it’s funny watching Glenn Beck wade out of his depth within the first few minutes: http://www.video.theblaze.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=25560075&source=THEBLAZE

  2. Lexington Green Says:

    Good to see this.  Whether this is the “Apple II” remains to be seen — but SOME product will be the breakthrough device.  More please.  Faster please.

    Incidentally, the whole schtick about the horrors of printing guns is simply prepping the battlefield by existing manufacturers and their puppets in government to try to control and if possible eliminate this technology before it sweeps them of the face of the earth. Making gun parts is 19th Century technology. You don’t need a 3D printer to do it.  Afghans in caves with a few simple pieces of machinery can make knock-off SMLEs and Kalashnikovs. Count on them to try very hard to do that.  If the USA blows its own foot off in this fashion, then others will race ahead with this technology.  It cannot be stopped. 

  3. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:

    This particular device seems to have very little use for non-artists and non-designers.  An expensive arts-and-crafts machine.
    I think I’ll just save up my money and wait for an authentic Replicator ™.  

  4. Chris Says:

    @Lex, you’re right on the money about the “horrors of printing guns”. If you’ve not read it, well worth checking out Cory Doctorow’s piece on the general purpose computing. http://boingboing.net/2012/01/10/lockdown.html

    Ultimately, this is a technology whose time has come, and it is being driven by people who understand it far far better than the legislators/interest groups who are trying to limit it.

  5. Curtis Gale Weeks Says:


    RE: “prepping the battlefield by existing manufacturers and their puppets in government,” it is conceivable that someday the only manufacturers, or at least the vast majority, will be those who create/supply such machines and those who create/supply the materials from which items are created in those machines.  (This idea relates to that idea I’ve seen here and there about the ability to create almost anything from dirt.  Well, I suppose that would depend on the constituent parts of that dirt — some dirt is richer than other dirt — unless we do make it one day to Replicators a la Star Trek.) 
    The alternative to “A 3D Printer For Everyone” schemes would be the central/community 3D printer plan.  Much like taking film to a processor in the old days, you could take your plan to a 3D printer that is either owned by the community or run by private enterprise like a Kinkos. (Or just choose from their list of 100,000,000 plans, stored at-site.)  Seems to me that these central processors would create bottlenecks; but, as an interim development I can see it happening.  If the first private 3D printers are basically “arts and crafts” types like the one above, the more complex designs (using multiple materials for instance, and more complex construction) might still be out of reach for the average person for quite some time.
    Imagine going to a Walmart Supercenter and seeing 80% of the shelves occupied by various containers of materials for use in 3D printers, 10% of the shelves holding various printers, and the final 10% being its food section.  OTOH, of course a company like Walmart could easily become the central processor, negating the need for a personal 3D printer; and, keep prices fairly low for pre-printed items.        

  6. Lexington Green Says:

    Curtis, this is good thinking.  Our upcoming book posits 3D printing as a major factor in the future economy. Large printers will be for large objects, and you will order stuff and pick it up in your self-driving car, or just send the car. Smaller ones in the home, specialized super-accurate to compile medicines on your countertop. We also suggest that some things will be hard to print (jet engine fan blades) because some parts need characteristics that are driven by their processing history as least as much as their shape, some large objects will still need to be assembled. We posit a revival of hand-made and traditionally made stuff will take off as luxury goods, giftware, decorations, etc.  I like the idea of a store with lots of different feedstock so you can equip your printer for stuff you will need.  Again, you could run off certain objects at local specialty print shops.  Clothes could be made out of cellulose sheets mixed with various other fibers, and fit you precisely from a body scan and have the latest cut and patterns. You could go to the boutique, see a 3D hologram of yourself in various designs, pick the one you like, have it printed on the spot, or maybe there would be a need for some hand finishing. But there will still be wool suits made by hand on Saville Row.  Just as in Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age, the very wealthy people did not look at the hologram broadcasts, but had newspapers printed daily with metal type on high rag-content paper. 
    Here’s the book, available for pre-order!

  7. Saturday Morning Linkage » Duck of Minerva Says:

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