It is funny that of all magazines, the "Fast Company" (again) should come up with an interesting article:
"While 3-D printing will excite hobbyists and disrupt many industries--and in fact, already has--its consumer application has been vastly exaggerated in ways that a lower cost and higher printing resolution won’t solve."
They try to argue against wide spread 3D printing by offering insight into how ridiculous this may end up to be:
"I want you to look around your office, house or apartment and ask yourself a question: Do you really need more things? Because that’s ultimately the promise of an at-home 3-D printer for the average consumer. You can produce any crap you can imagine, on command. Download friends’ crap. Upload your own crap. Plastic rings! Laminate bowls! Some-assembly-required bookcases that make Ikea look like heirloom furniture!"
"“Where am I going to put this thing,” of course, might sound fine when you’re dealing in gemstones and marble busts. But the items you’ll be able to print at home, on a consumer device, will never rival what can be made at the industrial scale. Because we aren’t talking about Amish-carved artisanal goods. This is mass production made smaller. When a regional manufacturer is printing toothbrushes on a $100,000 machine and you’re printing yours on a $100 machine, which of you is going to produce the better toothbrush? No doubt, one might argue that good old 2-D inkjet printing can be fairly indistinguishable from a professional job, so maybe 3-D printers could get so good that we couldn’t tell the difference. Even if that’s the case--and due to the complexity of materials in physical objects, I don’t believe it is--there’s a reason why people still get their photos printed at Walmart: Walmart will print them cheaper. It’s basic economics. Scale reduces cost, and the individual user will never have scale."
But do the guys at Fast Company really think to the end here?
After all they promise us that in any near future, non-disabled people will want to get their limbs amputated because of better prostheses:
There, we "learn" that:
"He likes to turn his head in unison with the flexing of his mechanical fingers, to make it seem like his entire body, not just his arm, is motorized. Like the Terminator. "It's pretty surprising," Bailey says. "I find there are a lot of envious people. They say, 'Hey! I want a robot hand.' "
There are amputees that never learn that these comments signify pity, not envy. And journalists that think they can extrapolate from there.
And Hugh Herr, self-proclaimed prophet and prosthetic-hand-not-builder, swoons about his own phantasies:
"When the prosthetic technology doesn't work," Herr says, "and the [amputee] is limping and he can't run and he's hurting, then nobody feels threatened, because that person is labeled as 'cute' and 'courageous.' " He leans forward in his office and crosses his aluminum shins with an audible clink. "But when the technology works, when it can make you stronger or faster than you were, it overnight becomes sexy and powerful and threatening. Overnight."
The problem here that it is not "when" technology works. It is "if" technology (at all) works. Because it doesn't exist, so, it doesn't work. And yet, Herr goes and uses more research money for academic paraphernalia that have no use in everyday life for arm amputees. Of course that's not cool. Why would it. It is your money too.
We can safely reply like this:
The popular Trautman hook has been replicated using that type of technology. I think that for small niche applications that suffer from hypes and not much really useful to buy for the money, 3D printing will be a real life saver. See for example http://openprosthetics.org/concepts/55/
And like this:
3D printing at home is likely a new ground breaking technology. From missing tools (such as kitchen tools, bike tire levers, ..) to rare overpriced underfunctional special needs items (prosthetic arm / hand parts) I am quite confident we will see quite interesting developments. After all, you probably posted this here as part of a "parasitic strategy" so, really, it was posted in order for us to tell you what 3D printing at home really will be used for, not because you actually believe that personal ownership of 3D printers was in any way a problem.
So, given that no one in sight goes ahead to design and build tomorrow's prosthetic hands that ARE cheap and that DO work, what was wrong with 3D printing again?