The 3d printing bubble

I have read at least one analysis of the financial bubble around the 3d printing industry and I have a pretty frank response. I don’t care. Sort of.

Of course I want 3d printing to succeed as an activity, but to me, it was always an activity meant for a particular group of a particular size. Sounds elitist doesn’t it? Not really, just “niche.” I think that’s a much better word.

Every bubble bursts they say, and the pundits of other industries buzz like flies until the market ultimately settles down. 3d printing to me had always been a thing OTHER people had access to and now, miracle of miracles, I OWN two 3d printers.

While some of the investment and excitement of 3d printing has slowed in some metrics, I can safely say no technology since the desktop revolution began has affected me as much as 3d printing.

But I am definitely one of a small contingent of people for which 3d printing is a perfect fit. I am a visual effects artist who models, textures, rigs, and animates various things. I also design, write, and self publish my own comics about original characters. Why WOULDN’T I need a 3d printer, is a much more valid question.

While most of the market for 3d printing follows a pattern much like Apple’s focus on education markets early in its history, 3d printing companies follow a similar path. They focus on designers, makers, and also educators but it’s some of the emerging niche markets that catch people off guard that I think might end up sustaining them just as  much.

In particular the pop culture niches, gaming, cosplay, food and fashion that turned up interesting and useful applications for 3d printing that were easier to grasp. Not everyone is going to invent and prototype widgets, but almost anyone can make costumes, mini gaming figures, jewelry or pancakes.

The first thing I wanted to print was the Gulanee from Defiance, a show I worked on and a 3d model I was proud to display. But the process of getting it printed was definitely easier for me since I already knew well and had access to 3d design tools to get the most out of a printer.

3d printing companies are still trying to keep the story going, but I think that’s part of MY job now. I want to do more, and more interesting things with my printers. 2016 is half over, and already I’ve designed my first consumer product, tested it and revised it. Last year, I only did what most other 3d artists did when they got 3d printers – they made kits from their 3d models. Toys, basically.

Nothing wrong with that. But like many people wondering what 3d printing is worth, I at least can search for at answer directly.

Breaking

Ugh. Burnout. Over committed. Under delivered.

Sometimes, you just have to admit when too much is too much to handle.

But there was always time for art, right?

Art is easy enough these days. You don’t even have to wait for paint to dry or plaster to set when you work digitally. No molds to clean, no dust to vacuum.
But if you believe the popular theory of how blue ligjt affects your mood and metabolism, there’s the looming glow of stress sitting in front of you or in your hands nearly every hour of you day.

Like insaid, that’s if you believe in the color light theories.

I experimented a little bit with those theories and loaded a light therapy app on my tablet since it’s usually the last screen I see before I try to get some sleep.

It’s supremely annoying already that tablet screens don’t have the greatest color fidelity. Working in visual effects, companies often take great care to calibrate monitors. Light therapy apps change the color temperature of the screen and can do so with varying intensity using the theory that warmer light is more relaxing.

Well, I think it works, but to be honest I do other things to manage “sleep hygeine” these days which might contribute more to overall rest.

A dark, quiet room is actually tough in many cities. Light from other clocks and devices and even outdoor lighting and traffic in some places I have lived make this a luxury item indeed.

So there’s always room for improvememt.

Bigger and yet smaller

Two of the most conflicting responses to the pencase were it needs to carry more and larger items but it also needs to be smaller.

Conflicting, right? Frustrating in the least. People watch too much Doctor Who and think that stuff is real. Joke. I may have talked about this before, but sometimes you can never really ask the right questions.

While there is room for improvement, its funny that the size of the case wasn’t one of the things I was overly concerned with since I knew it would fit my most used items.

I have brought the Pencase into Disneyland a few times. I even gave one to a sketch artist there. It’s a test of appearances, since they have recently upped their security measures to include heavier screening of suspicious items.

Needless to say the results are not uniform in that some personell ignored the case completely while others have definitely questitoned me about it. But all of them eventually let me into the parks.

I thought about using clear filaments next to get even closer to that odd balance of interesting design and un-threatening appearance. If you have ever used clear filaments, they are kind of hard to use if your print requires heavy cleaning, but the pencase uses very little.

But trimming the case further would help people identify it’s contents faster without tagging it with a silly looking PENCIL CASE label or clumsy icon. Any decent security officer shouldn’t trust labels. Should they?

Still, we imbue objects with our story, not the intended one.

Working for friends

Ive been pretty busy these days working on some projects for some of my closest friends.

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One of those projects is a giant space opera themed card game which is just too silly perfect for me. Creatures, astronauts, interplanetary mass scale campaigns – right up my part of the galaxy.

Its good to get out of your own head creatively on ocassion. Makes the world seem bigger. It also conversely means less time for personal projects, but this work is personal as well.

I spend an inordinate amount of time obsessively working in things that might not fly. It’s the latest guru fueled ethic – “if I fail more than you I win because it means you quit.”

I don’t really like this mentality but it’s just semantics at this point. I prefer to think there are winners and losers no matter what you do, so you might as well play and play your best.