What's holding back the 3D-printing revolution?

Problem #1: search engines.

I searched Thingiverse for “coat hanger”. The first page of results included a hydroponics planter, a broom holder, custom-word pens, filament holders, a geared card shuffler, a toolbox, a chicken water dispenser, and a trebuchet. 8 of the 20 items did indeed have the words “coat hanger” in their description, but 5 of them were really coat hooks, and one of the hangers was for doll clothing. One of the remaining two was a copy of a commercial folding design not optimized for 3D printing: when you need both rafts and internal supports, and it’s still a “work in progress” after three years, and it takes half a day to print…

I didn’t actually need a coat hanger, even the fancy folding travel kind, but a lot of the hype around 3D printing was based on the idea that instead of shipping things to our homes, we’d download plans for things and print them ourselves. Which leads to…

Problem #2: too much fiddling around

Turns out that future is gated by someone managing to build affordable foolproof turnkey climate-controlled dual-extruder 3D printers with precise tolerances and automated (non-toxic!) part-cleaning and ejection, that accept data in a vendor-independent format that clearly describes the parameters needed to print successfully.

Also, the commercial travel hanger linked above is 10 for $10 on Amazon, so that imaginary practical printer also has to be really cheap and really fast.

I expect we’ll see 3d-on-demand shipped overnight from Amazon long before we’ll see it in non-hobbyist homes or even neighborhood print services. Speaking of which, I’d like to see some numbers on just how effectively all the hyped “distributed pandemic ppe printing” efforts actually delivered usable products to people who needed them.

Finally, something practical to print!

Not gonna lie, it won’t be easy…


The first book of the Solo Leveling light novel is now coming out February 16th. Dead-tree-only, at the moment, without a Kindle version listed.

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