My last post, on the World Maker Faire (alas, too long ago, but many a project beckon), was largely commentary-free. In the intervening weeks, a number of articles have aligned into a constellation of push-back against the maker movement. Most center around the rise of 3-D printing: seductive as additive manufacturing may be, it is currently crippled by an inability to do much real work. ABS and PLA, the dominant printing materials, coupled with current common build volumes, represent real physical limits to what 3D printing can accomplish right now. These limits, coupled with radical open access to both software and print files, has slashed the brake lines that limit consumption. We are living in the dawn of the age of The Crapject.
Coined by Scott Smith, of the Changeist, the term crapject refers to the uniquely useless stuff spawned by the rise of 3D printing. One of my favorite design writers, Allison Arieff, recently wrote an eloquent piece on this phenomenon on Medium, entitled Yes We Can. But Should We? Both Smith and Arieff question whether "desktop manufacturing" is a good thing, and with good reason. The history of manufacturing is a dirty, dark, dangerous thing. Raw materials were wrenched from the earth under great duress and transformed, often crudely, into consumables. Progress had a cost. That cost has fallen exponentially over the last five hundred years, and now we can summon object from the ether with the press of a button.Read More