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Ewloe, United Kingdom
Writing, tweeting, debating and occasionally getting a little over-excited about 3D Printing. But always aiming to keep it real!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Less Revolution and More Evolution as New 3D Printers Hit

Two new kids in the fold this week. One joined the party straight off, the other will follow soon.

First is the Buildatron 1, which was launched at the Maker Faire event in New York last weekend. The byline that has been steadily accompanying this new kid's marketing chatter is: "A Revolutionary 3D Printer".

It's not!

Sorry to be blunt, but it really isn't. Furthermore, the stated and single purpose of Buildatron Systems — the company behind Buildatron 1 — is to "Build a Revolution through affordable 3D printers and robotic devices." And it's not just Buildatron — the word 'revolution' is over-used, and more often than not, used incorrectly, around 3D printing.

To be clear, in terms of definitions, a revolution involves a forcible overthrow of an existing system or a dramatic and wide-reaching change in the way that something works. Therefore, it could be argued that 3D printing does offer a 'revolutionary' approach to manufacturing industry and making things per se, because it challenges the way things have been made for many thousands of years. However, I think that even this is tenuous because 3D printing is never going to replace or change every other method of manufacturing and making — it just offers a great alternative.

I get the aim of the folks at Buildatron Systems, the intention is grand but I don't think 'revolution' is the way to go. The Buildatron 1 (DIY and assembled models), in my opinion, is a great example of how 3D printers are evolving to bring the consumer better, more usable and accessible 3D printers. This is a good looking printer, an evolution of the RepRap open source project. It has some really neat selling points that do set it apart from comparable models on the market, apart from how it looks, including a proprietary internal gear-fed plastic spooling cartridge system. The website is designed to engage a community, the information provided is broad and sound. Another one to watch closely. 

The other new 3D printer announced this week is Origo (one of my first questions is where this name came from??). This is a really cool looking machine, vital to the target demographic: children! I love the ideology behind this development, and it emerged yesterday that Joris Peels has had significant input on this so my hopes are high. The downside is that when pushed by Joshua Johnson (@protobotind) on twitter about when we could expect to get our hands on one of these machines, the typically honest response was 18 months — 'if things go according to plan, which they probably won't'. Origo also revealed that the planned retail price is $800, no assembly will be required. This is evolution at it's best. No real indicators on the performance of the machine, but it was being bandied around that it will be the EZ-Bake oven of 3D printing. Again, I took a deep breath with that one, I remember my daughter's EZ-Bake oven, and it was no where near as much fun as it was supposed to be, and I know for sure I wasn't the only parent to think that and my daughter wasn't the only frustrated child. I think they might need to rethink that comparison. If my instincts are correct, they don't need a comparison at all. Kids will love it.

But this type of news is only going to increase as the evolution of 3D printing gathers pace — which it will!

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