PBS short documentary about 3D printing

PBS OffBook made this excellent 7-minute introduction to 3D printing.

Much attention has been paid to 3D Printing lately, with new companies developing cheaper and more efficient consumer models that have wowed the tech community. They herald 3D Printing as a revolutionary and disruptive technology, but how will these printers truly affect our society? Beyond an initial novelty, 3D Printing could have a game-changing impact on consumer culture, copyright and patent law, and even the very concept of scarcity on which our economy is based. From at-home repairs to new businesses, from medical to ecological developments, 3D Printing has an undeniably wide range of possibilities which could profoundly change our world.


  1. I prefer the term professionals use: “Rapid prototyping” because that’s what it IS. And in that area it is actually very useful. But why is everybody still pitching this as a very roundabout successor of Etsy?
    Once, just once, I’d like to see an editorial or documentary on rapid prototyping that doesn’t almost pathologically gloss over the fact that mostly anything that comes out of the 3D printer requires both post and pre-print manual clean up by a professional. More often than not, It’d be both easier and more resourseful to just create the object old school style.Imagining the future is sweet, but role playing the future online is kinda dumb.

  2. I wouldn’t say it makes inventories obsolete, just changes what is in the inventory.

    Replacement parts for 3D printers and spools of the different colors and types of printing material come to mind.

  3. I don’t think plastic trinkets have changed the world yet. Other than using up oil and creating landfill. I could probably count on one hand the number of times I could have used something like that in the last 20 years.

    1. Plus they are very limited (for now?) to the types of objects they can make.  Mostly plastics, no mixed materials, etc.  They won’t be making light bulbs any time soon.

      1. I’m guessing that in a few decades, they’ll invent a rapid prototyper working in diamond; say with lasers of a specific wavelength in a specific mixture of gasses, or EM fields interfering in the right chemical solution. Then it’ll be more than competetive, it’ll make entire business chains obsolete…

  4. The day they make it so my elderly father can use it, maybe.  Have you ever watched someone try to figure out how to send an email who is not familiar with the technology?  Imagine someone trying to CAD up the design needed to make a replacement handle for their faucet….

  5. The reason why 3D printers are a game changing technological concept, is because they are essentially the proto-replicators from sci-fi. Limited in the present, but unlimited in the future.   

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