3D printing was supposed to revolutionize the world and usher in a new age of abundance and prosperity. Manufacturing was going to become “localized” and custom crafted goods would be commonplace. Gone would be the advantages of mass production, manufacturing would become democratized.
That didn’t happen.
Back in 2012 I purchased an early model Solidoodle, 2nd generation printer. I was interested in finding out what all the hype was about, and being an avid hobbyist, wanted the ability to create widgets at home.
I quickly discovered the shortcomings of the 3D printing ecosystem. First the printers were inherently unreliable, it was a process of constant tinkering and hope to make successful prints. But this pales in comparison to the effort needed to create your own printable 3D models.
The tools for creating 3D models have been around for a long time, and are insanely complex and expensive. The tools readily available to the “masses” were much less capable, but still required a long learning curve to master. Anything beyond simple geometric objects was not something the average hobbyist would endeavor to create.
Then I found the Thingiverse and other websites host content created by other 3D enthusiasts.