3D Printing – a new dimension in Human Evolution

Mar 16, 2015
Written by Diogo Quental

Just like many other fellows, I jumped into the 3D printing revolution about 3 years ago. Since then, no other question was asked to me more often than “what can you do with 3D Printing?”.

It’s not an easy question. If one asks what you can do with a car, you can answer that it will take you from point A to point B; with a toothbrush, you can brush your teeth; with a chair you can sit and relax. But with 3D Printing? Well…

The immediate answer to such an open question was “anything your creativity allows you to!”.

It should come as no surprise that most reactions were a paled “ok, that sounds really awesome”, right before the curious person would turn their back and move away from me.

Being in the eye of the tornado didn’t give me the best perspective to explain all the paradigm change phenomenon created by 3D Printing. I had to see it from the eyes of others…

For quite some time I had no better answer and I felt both angry and frustrated when the same question arose. The result was a new, somehow impulsive, not too kind, answer: “what can you do with your brain?”.

Clearly worse than the previous answer, it was now time to get it right. Our sales were then suffering from the lack of positioning (and disregard of all advice from Geoffrey Moore in “Crossing the Chasm”), and soon the motivation of our sales team would suffer as well.

The decision was then to explain what people could do with our 3D printer, and not with 3D printing. By clearly targeting the market segment we focused during the R&D process, all communication became easier. Targeted people could finally see to what problem the printer would be a solution.

The positioning answer directed to a specific market segment relieved the sales inertia. However it was no answer to the initial question that kept boggling in my head, and made me write all this.

During this period I moved to a new, yet old, house and soon I realized how old houses can be a great opportunity for applying 3D printing. They are usually rich of broken parts for which there are no longer substitutes.

In my new house I was immediately facing a challenge: the end cap of the curtain pole was assembled in a permanent way and the eyelets were not compatible with the curtain clip of the curtains I brought from my previous house. It did seem the perfect problem to be solved with 3D printing. And so it was. I solved it by designing a small curtain clip that could join the old eyelet with the old curtain clip. In less than 15 minutes I had the design ready and in less than 3 hours all the new curtain clips were printed. They worked perfectly!

With the printed solution an unexpected feeling of freedom took hold of me and, with it, also came the pursued answer:

3D printing adds a new dimension to our existence!

…not to artists, who were always able to create. But to all those, like me, who are not able to draw a circle and yet within a few minutes could now design and print a new curtain clip.

3D Printing, in my bluntly non-scientific view, gives us a new capacity to express ourselves, giving room to a new level in Human evolution.

Babies express themselves through crying, screaming and other non-verbal communication (that tend to keep parents awake long hours through the night). As children grow up and learn how to read and write, they become able to translate their thoughts into 2D, by simply writing them. Once they learn mathematics, they increase their abstraction capacity, thus reaching deeper and more complex thoughts. In this evolution, however, the 3rd dimension is never present for the common person.

Think about it: we all live in a 3D world where if one needs a 3D object one has to wish it exists in a supermarket shelf!

Imagine how the world would be if you would have to shop for the words you need to construct your thoughts! Crazy, I know. But that’s what most of us are doing with the 3rd dimension. We still only live with the objects that others are letting us have!

The answer is now clear. What can you do with 3D Printing?

You can have access to the 3rd dimension in Human evolution.

And I don’t mean it in the way my friend Kamil Dziadkiewicz once, in a 3D PrintShow, showed in a t-shirt that his sexy round belly was wearing “I’m not fat, I’m 3D”.

I mean it in your mind!