I get emails from Google concerning 3D printing. These emails happen daily and each contains links to many reports of 3D printing being done by this or that enterprise.
When I first learned about 3D printing, I thought it was a revolutionary technology, one that would “disrupt” all manner of processes and technologies. This was why I told Google to send me these emails. I thought that 3D printing might soon start happening in people’s homes. Because it could, basically. But homes don’t mass produce anything, except food, and 3D printed food is ridiculous. Just for starters, potentially poisonous. It makes as much sense to have a lathe in every home, to sculpt food so that it all looks like chess pieces. Every home could do that. But why would it? A few crazy lathe-using hobbyists do have lathes in their homes. With these lathes they make a few rather pointless things that they could easily buy, far better made, for a tiny fraction of the cost and fuss of having their own lathe. The rest of us, not being crazy, refrain from “domestic lathing”.
3D printing, like using a lathe, is not disruptive. It is simply a way of making things, which was developed quite a long time ago, and which even now keeps on getting better. Recently, people like me noticed 3D printing, because 3D printing makes great videos and photos For the internet. But that didn’t make it disruptive. It just meant that 3D printing was contributing to the internet, just as it also contributes to the pharmaceutical trade and the building trade and the trade of making farm equipment. Wherever stuff is being made and then assembled, there will be 3D printing going on, as part of the process.
Now that I have understood all this, these emails from Google have become rather boring and often very silly.
Consider the headline above this non-story:
XB-1 commercial supersonic jet is real and 3D printing helped make it so
Well, yes, of course it did. Why wouldn’t it? The XB-1, as I have already noted here, is, at least potentially, one hell of a story. That they used 3D printing in the course of making it is not a story. It would only have been a story if they hadn’t.