There's a bit of hysteria about 3D printers: "You can print a Car on your Desk!!!" type articles, that miss the point that most 3D printers make models out of model material, not finished products. My limited experience of 3D printers has been elation followed by swearing caused by file-size resolution issues, poor surface finish, delamination and lots of filing and polishing.
phillydun wrote:If 'anyone' is able to design and distribute designs in such a way what is to say they will bother refining? I can see it being ever too easy for the wouldbe ameteur to click 'send', thus the consumer prints out an inferior object. Think how many terrible apps are out there. My concern is that 3d printing could undermine the design profession.
I disagree. DSLR cameras are cheap and plentiful, but they dont make people become good photographers. Desktop printing and Photoshop doesn't make people competent graphic designers.
3D printers are a tool, and need skills to use well. When they truly take off (like desktop printing), which I'm sure they will, there will be plenty of people who'll call themselves designers and start selling their services and put up stuff on Shapeways
and the world will be flooded with even more Iphone cases and they will be just as comparable as the stuff you can find on http://youarenotaphotographer.com/
I think if anything 3D printers may increase the value of good design. This odd NYT article predicts 2012 as the year of 3D printing http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/29/busin ... ldman.html
"As printers become cheaper, new materials become available and machines can handle more complex tasks, the impact will increase. Local manufacturing will cut down on time and shipping costs. Companies will need to hold less inventory. Customization — of orthopedic parts tailored from digital scans of patients, for example — will become far simpler. Manufacturers will be able to modify parts more easily, and pioneers will find new products that only printers can make.
But anything involving just a digital file and a readily available printer will encourage copying and piracy. The day may well come when teenagers can scan or download their friends’ designer sunglasses and print a copy.
Companies that produce 3-D printers, such as Stratasys and 3D Systems, offer immediate plays on the sector, and other producers are considering I.P.O.’s. Related companies, like the $8 billion design software firm Autodesk, may also benefit. The technology is developing rapidly. Opportunities will abound, but investors should beware hype in the coming year, and look out for disruption to traditional manufacturers over the next several."