[vcf-midatlantic] OT: Re: Is it just me or.....

Herb Johnson hjohnson at retrotechnology.info
Mon Mar 5 11:28:42 EST 2018

I'm sorry I'm the villain in this discussion. This will be my last 
reply, it's off topic and I'm repeating myself. Really, my only goal is 
to say "3D printing futures will not be "like" the history of personal 
computing was". OK? I'm no 3D printer expert otherwise.

Personal computers got better/cheaper/faster because CHIPS got 
smaller/cheaper/faster. Computer size was evolutionary: box to laptop to 
smartphone took decades. Whereas, costs of 3D printers go down with 
production *at the same quality* - no shrinkage allowed. Cheep 3D 
printers don't produce the same quality of parts as expensive ones, or 
they print slower, or they use proprietary supplies or fewer kinds of 

I'll say this much - 3D printers may be "like" inkjet or laser/toner 
printers, in terms of history of production and performance and use. The 
catch - proprietary printers use proprietary ink-carts or toner-carts, 
those pay for those cheep printers.

> the more sophisticated the industrial printers get, the more 
>  sophisticated the home ones will get

Oh yeah? And what pays for that "sophistication?" better print heads or 
lasers cost more. good lead screws, better bearings cost more than 
threaded rod. More mechanical features ADD to costs. These are not 
computer-bits of intellectual property that cost zero in production. 
These are physical tangible items that you can't "shrink"  like 
shrinking chip-logic. Compare the physical features of your $200 
printer, to a $1000- $3000 3D printer.

One more comment. There's another commonality between 3D printers and 
early personal computing. "A relatively small amount of money, with tons 
of potential." That sold computers in the past, when it was real work to 
make them useful (and they cost more). Today, computer use is 
standardized, software functions are standardized, expectations are set. 
You buy for use, for job and personal life. That's not true for 3D 
printers - printing a part is like baking a cake; most people just go to 
Dunkin' Donuts.

Homework question: describe the world where ordinary people just "print" 
physical items for use instead of ordering/buying them. If you evoke 
"instant 3D printing", explain the physics of spraying PLA plastic at speed.

Herb Johnson
cursed to be an engineer

On 3/5/2018 10:05 AM, Matt Reynolds wrote:
> I agree with BIll.
> I understand Herb's point but just want to comment that even if the home 
> printers don't evolve above printing plastic (which I don't believe will 
> be the case), they can already have a decent impact on society.  If it 
> becomes commonplace and intuitive enough for the average Joe to use, a 
> lot of things that are bought retail would no longer need to be bought.  
> There is a lot of plastic stuff out there that people use every day 
> beyond eating utensils.  Replacement parts, toys, gifts, all small 
> things in a sense, but still quite neat to be able to make yourself.  I 
> just bought a home printer for myself in December.  It was a retail i3 
> clone marketed by Monoprice, and cost 200 bucks.  A relatively small 
> amount of money, with tons of potential.
> The impact on the industrial side will be a bigger wave when it comes to 
> pass, and the more sophisticated the industrial printers get, the more 
> sophisticated the home ones will get.  It doesn't even need to get to a 
> point where every Average Joe knows how to use them.  Enough people 
> having more knowledge on small scale\personal manufacturing enables even 
> more people who have an idea or vision but lacks the equipment\skills to 
> get something prototyped quicker and cheaper than in the past.
> I guess only time will tell.
> Matt 
Herbert R. Johnson, New Jersey in the USA
http://www.retrotechnology.com OR .net
preserve, recover, restore 1970's computing
email: hjohnson AT retrotechnology DOT com
or try later herbjohnson AT retrotechnology DOT info

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