3D Printers Are Not Like 2D Printers: A Rant #3dthursday
Jon Evans of Techcrunch shares a rant about the fundamental differences between the 3D vs 2D printer “revolutions”:
People. Listen. 3D printing is not just 2D printing with another dimension added on. Yes, the names are very similar, but their uses are not even remotely analogous. We may reasonably conclude, therefore, that 1) 3D printing will not recapitulate the history of 2D printing, 2) as soon as you make an argument along those lines you lose all credibility and look like an idiot.
Why? Because paper, I think you’ll agree, is used almost exclusively as a medium of information. Exceptions like Nicole Aptekar’s stunning paper art only serve to prove this rule. This is true even of photo printers: if it can be digitized, it’s information. Whereas 3D printers generate stuff. And our relationship to stuff is thoroughly, extremely, fundamentally different from our relationship to information.
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I am confused. Are people actually comparing 3D printing with 2D printing? Seems like an odd thing to rant about but I do agree with his assessment of Nathan Myhrvold. Today I used a stick to scratch my back and by noon I received a letter from Myhrvold’s lawyers saying I owed the company a royalty.
It depends — there are two confusions. One is the word “printer” throws a lot of people (who think you need 3D glasses to see 3D prints) and the other is the business history of “HP” which is frequently evoked when people are talking about the 3D “garage” revolution. There are actually some interesting things to look at regarding the history of HP, but it is very unlikely that 3D printing will more than superficially match that story: different tools, different people, different stakes!