I have been challenged on a couple of issues recently, the most pressing for me is the "reality vs hype" argument with 3D printing. It's not a new topic by any means, but one that I wish to readdress and distinguish between hype and forward looking statements.
I agree that there does need to be clarity. So here's where I stand:
Today's designers, engineers, manufacturers and makers are all primarily concerned with the reality of what 3D printing technology and the different processes are capable of — today, now! This directly affects what they do and how they do it. There are plenty of positives to draw on here, for example complex shapes, tool-less manufacture etc — all generally well documented. But it is also worth reiterating that, currently, there are trade-offs for most applications; for instance superior quality parts will forego speed of printing and so on. The other key reality is that printable materials are limited.
The 'hype' surrounding 3D printing comes into the equation when capabilities are overstated, which is not helpful for users or newbies who will inevitably become disappointed when the reality hits. I am not a fan of hype, but as a commentator I see this as very different to forward looking statements that expound the potential of the technology in the future, based on knowledge and trends.
My latest crystal ball moment (just my opinion, but I'm entitled to it) was posted in a comment on Sculpteo's blog:
Despite having the charge of hype levelled at me, personally, I think there is a big difference. But your thoughts on this would be welcomed, either way ......