March 14, 2014

A Printer for Hackers

The trend today in 3d printing is hitting it big with the consumers. With everyday people. Printer companies are making their printers more and more sleek. The idea of the “one button” push and print is ingrained into many marketing campaigns.

Is that the right strategy?

I’ve been mucking around with the Raspberry Pi today. I am playing around with it, setting up the wifi module, the camera. I have had to fiddle around with it in the same ways I have to fiddle with a desktop 3d printer. I tweaked this setting, I plugged it in, took the plug out, tweaked that setting, rinse and repeat. But it didn’t bother me as much. Because, the Raspberry Pi is a toy for the hackers, it’s a toy that comes with the expectation that you have to tweak, Google, and following all sorts of tutorials to get it working.

I think setting that expectation is important, and might be a better strategy for 3d printing. I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to get consumers to experience 3d printing, but rather tell the story of “making and hacking,” rather than the story of “push and play.” It’s a more honest story, and I think in some sense a more rewarding story.

When you hand somebody a block of clay, the expectation is that they will work to better their craft. It’s not a story of push and play. But the work and the learning to become a better sculptor is just as rewarding, if not more rewarding, than the end result.

I wonder if it should be the same for 3d printing.