Over the last few months I have been thinking long and hard about the numerous personal challenges I have received from different people to start 3D printing myself – at home!
I have taken them very seriously actually, because I do understand how big this is going to be – in industry and in general life – one day. Another angle I have considered is that I lose credibility in my commentary because I don't talk from personal experience with 3D printing.
However, I have, tonight, come to the following conclusions:
First, as I have said before, 3D printing is not going to reach its full potential in my lifetime. The true pioneers that are working with the technologies now are vital to the future of the tech, but I know that I am not one of them. I know I'm repeating myself again here, but the technologies, as they stand now, demand an engineering background or technological leaning — I have neither. To get the most out of the existing 3D printing technologies one has to have been educated in that vein and I chose a different path in my formative years.
My university degree is in English — I love books and words and I am most comfortable, happy and productive in that environment. I (try to be) creative with words, although I am not too precious about them. I love using the written word and — you may have noticed — I quite like talking too! But my chosen subject is 3D printing. I don’t believe you can write, convincingly and successfully at least, about something you know little or nothing about, and during the last 16 years I have learned and continue to learn about the industry that I work in. I have built working relationships with many in the 3D printing industry, I have researched and I have listened. I have also asked lots of questions. I know the rhetoric off by heart and studied real applications, I have formed my own opinions based on what I have learned and taken other opinions into account and I do believe that all qualifies me to do what I do. However, I am not qualified to start designing in 3D or printing in 3D — and while the temptation to try has been not insignificant, I am convinced the time and effort it would take to get up to speed and anywhere near successful is best spent in a different way.
That said, I am determined to keep encouraging my children to explore the possibilities, for it will be their generation and the one after that, that will see the greatest impact of 3D printing in the world. I will never force them of course, but knowing, with some certainty, that there will be opportunities aplenty in this area for them as they develop and carve out careers for themselves I see it as a responsibility of mine to at least offer them the benefit of my knowledge and experiences. As you may have seen, there are positive results already. My daughter (14) is looking forward to her product design course and my son (7) is confident in the knowledge that he wants to do the same – just in case his WWE dreams come to nothing. (We haven’t disillusioned him yet, instilling in him that if he trains and works hard enough, anything is possible. We have, however, subtly suggested that he considers a back-up plan!). As and when they need more practical support than I, my husband or our immediate circle are able to offer, I feel sure that my contact network is wide enough to get them what they need, when they need it.
My nieces and nephew are getting the same advice too. I am also talking with the two local schools — one primary and one secondary level about 3D design and 3D printing.
I also fully intend to keep growing my personal 3D printed collection, but my 3D printed items of choice will be printed remotely, by people that know what they’re doing!
ie Not Me!