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You know this Steve, but for your readers.

I took a 3d printing class for fun last Fall to learn a bit. It was fascinating, but the design programs we used are awful. We had three printers all less than a year old. They had constant alignment problems and required a lot of babysitting. Even the expensive one, which cost more than a BMW, produced a rough surface you could easily feel. I fully understand that these are for prototyping and certain specialties. The laser cutters, cnc tools, and 3d milling machines worked much better.

I agree that students need to experiment and learn, but these are not close to being useful for most people! I also agree that students need to learn art and sculpture in particular. If you can't do art and engineering drawing, just forget this if you want to create. Of anything to learn when you need something like this and when it is just silly.


Over the years, as I've built designed and built things, I've been impressed by how difficult the design phase is. It can be taught, but generally isn't. There is a big mismatch between average design skills and the increasing ease of creation that needs to be addressed. Of course people can use the designs of others, but now it is simple copying or minor customization.

The Maker movement is great, but it will be more accessible and satisfying when it naturally includes good design.

Perhaps this is why places like Brooklyn, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Berlin and Milan are ground zero for this activity these days - places where there is a good mix of tech and the arts.

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