Engadget Expand, a two-day event of presentations, consumer electronics, and innovation, kicked off today at Fort Mason in San Francisco. The first panel discussion was “3D Printing Goes Mainstream” and it featured Ari Reichental, president and CEO of 3D Systems; Hod Lipson, associate professor of engineering at Cornell University; and Max Lobovsky, president and CEO of Formlabs.
In truth, the panel discussion would have been better called “3D Printing Will go Mainstream When…” Because as all the panelists agreed, while 3D printing is big and getting bigger we’re still in the early adopter stage and seamless consumer interface has not yet been achieved. That’s the killer app, they agreed.
“I don’t think we’re quite there yet,” said Hod, who oversaw Cornell’s Fab@Home project.
He said the consumer computer revolution arrived when the interface became so easy users forgot it was even there and they got on with creating things with them.
“We’re on the cusp of inventions of new business models. That’s what we’re waiting for.”
Ari said for consumers, we’re still in the FORTRAN or BASIC era, but we need a Windows or iOS experience that offers “coloring book simplicity” or the “gamification of CAD.”
“That’s when 3D printing will become relevent to the other 99 pecent.”
Ever lower prices will of course help, too.
Max put the brakes on the much-vaunted 3D printing revolution when he asked if everyone really needs a 3D printer.
“Does everyone want to be a maker,” he asked.
Given the diversity of applications for 3D printing he foresees, Hod said everyone may not have a 3D printer in the home, but instead you’ll see the machines permeate a wide range of fields–education, aerospace, medicine, and even your local auto repair shop.
It’s a question of “which printers will be where,” he said.
Ari was the most bullish on 3D printing’s future.
“It’s going to change everything in the next 5-10 years.”
Thinking more grandly, Ari believes the “heart of the human condition is to differentiate and express…3D printing is very congruent with the human condition.”
What do you think? What’s 3D printing’s killer app? What will it take for the technology to go mainstream?
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!
We are angry, frustrated, and in pain because of the violence and murder of Black people by the police because of racism. We are in the fight AGAINST RACISM. George Floyd was murdered, his life stolen. The Adafruit teams have specific actions we’ve done, are doing, and will do together as a company and culture. We are asking the Adafruit community to get involved and share what you are doing. The Adafruit teams will not settle for a hash tag, a Tweet, or an icon change. We will work on real change, and that requires real action and real work together. That is what we will do each day, each month, each year – we will hold ourselves accountable and publish our collective efforts, partnerships, activism, donations, openly and publicly. Our blog and social media platforms will be utilized in actionable ways. Join us and the anti-racist efforts working to end police brutality, reform the criminal justice system, and dismantle the many other forms of systemic racism at work in this country, read more @ adafruit.com/blacklivesmatter
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.