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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!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Super Sirens, Sneezes & Soap Boxes — Some reactions to 3D Printing 'Bandwagonism'

Watching the host of new start-up companies emerge around 3D printing draws conflicting reactions from me, I find. It is, of course, primarily gratifying to see the technologies blossom and evolve, appreciated as they are by a much wider user base and audience than ever before. And yet, at times, it’s disheartening too. The inevitability of individuals and corporations pouncing on the tech is a given, but you’d think a little common sense, a degree of research, some background checking maybe, would go a long way in determining success. Apparently not — some (probably a minority of) companies seem to think that using 3D printing terminology fused with some superior (not in a good way) marketing speak will do just fine!

I generally like to keep things up beat, but that’s not always possible. I’ll deviate from the happy when necessary and today it is necessary.

What’s prompted this post ….. well, let me tell you!

As the stream of press releases and requests for coverage on 3DPI come in from the host of newbies, it is often hard to differentiate between the often similar business models. This, I should add, does not make them unviable per se, it just means they’re fighting for business in a crowd — a big, and growing, crowd.

With the majority there is nothing wrong, and as an Editor I do try to be fair and bring the range of products and services in front of 3DPI’s growing audience as objectively as possible. Where objectivity breaks down, it is usually replaced by exuberance — the team of writers we’re building there are loving the tech and the apps. For the new 3DP start-ups media coverage is essential to help them on their way — they may succeed, they may not. The hard work needed for success is down to them, but if I can help, I will. That’s just the way I am.


Sometimes, something lands in my in-box and warning bells go off — and by bells, I mean super sirens.

That’s what happened a couple of days ago when I received a communication from MyO3D.

The marketing ‘bumpf’ (that’s a Rachel word but suitable here) around the core message — another design repository — hailed the first ding dong. It was trying way too hard. But when I read the following, that’s when the sirens went off big time:

"Some may recall the sheer size of the first computers, taking up entire rooms and possessing less power than the phone in your pocket. A similar evolution has been seen in 3D printing; the huge, strictly industrial printers with limited uses [My emphasis] may as well be dinosaurs compared to the compact 3D printers of today, with some being even cheaper than high-end desktop and laptop computers.”

I mean, REALLY???

This just smacks of little to no real knowledge and/or understanding of the industry that they are seeking to operate in. However, me being me, I wanted other opinions, back up if you like. So I sent the quote and link to some of my go-to guys. It seems I hadn’t over-reacted.

This is the order the following came back to me:

Anyone who compares the perceived capabilities of consumer 3D printers and professional 3D printers in this way has simply no business writing on the subject. Absolute drivel.”
Phil Reeves, Managing Director, Econolyst.

“I have sneezed on my keyboard and accidentally produced better websites and concepts than that - it's about as hollow as most 3D printed objects.”
Richard Horne, aka RichRap3D

Ok so the dinosaur analogy is obviously complete rubbish. A more accurate comparison would be to say that industrial machines are cars and cheap compact 3D printers are soap box go karts. Yes cars are more expensive and yes they are bigger but in terms of functionality they leave the go karts behind in every sense of the word.

The author of this thing obviously knows little about the technology and understands less than that. The idea behind the site is yet another way of making money off the efforts of others while contributing little. I’m sure it will be used by some idiots who would quite frankly be better off spending their money on skin cream and deodorant rather than paying for files of chess sets and business card holders with moving parts.”
Jeremy Pullin, Renishaw

The inevitability of business “bandwagonism” and the urge to make fast/big bucks is a story as old as time, but it doesn’t make it any less sad ….. or disappointing. This is not the first case, and it most certainly, unfortunately won’t be the last either.

FYI, I did send a reply to MyO3D, challenging this comment and inviting a response. I’ve had no reply.