Fair disclosure: I’m a critical reader. Therefore, I look at articles about 3D printing skeptically. Many, many articles exist that discuss how 3D printing is going to change the world. Maybe it will; it’s a bit soon to say for sure. I insist on a more realistic, pragmatic approach before I consider an article a “good” one on this subject. I don’t agree with the idea that 3D printing will totally “disrupt” various industries. This technology might change some industries, or enhance them, but the term disrupt, in the sense of destruction, is not something I’m convinced of. I look for articles with a balanced approach to this industry. So my choices here will reflect that particular perceptual bias.
An older article, but still a good one is this one from Todd Grimm, “3D Printer Benchmark Profiles Seven Systems.” Some of these systems are no longer offered, and others have gone through several changes. But this article still offers good, basic information on how to evaluate a printer for your particular use.
The next article, “How to evaluate a 3D printer, additive manufacturing system” also contained a lot of information from Todd Grimm. It was based on a presentation he gave at the 2012 AMUG conference, and it offers excellent advise about how to select the right 3D printer for your particular needs.
I thought this next article, “How to Justify the Cost of a Rapid Prototyping System,” also offered good tips for making the case for purchasing a 3DP/AM machine. Speaking the language of accounting can be a challenge, and this article explains what is needed for best the communication.
“The Third Industrial Revolution,” published in the economist is one of the more balanced articles on 3D printing. I like the history at the beginning, but there are a couple of points I disagree with. For example, when was the last time the author toured a factory? It’s not future factories that will be “squeaky clean,” most of today’s factories already are! I’ve toured a number of factories in my career, and not once have I encountered a dirty factory. It’s past time we let that image from the 1960s go.
And again, I’m not convinced that this technology will be disruptive. I still think it will literally be additive, in that it will another tool we can use; it will expand manufacturing by making custom parts really affordable.
This technology has a way to go, however. If you’ve checked some of the objects available on sites like Shapeways and others, you will find custom parts in the hundreds of dollars. If they were mass produced, the price would certainly drop.
“Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing,” is interesting because it discusses each of the major application markets for 3D printing. It also gives a nice review of the book, Fabricated, by Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman.
And finally, one of the better articles on just “What is 3D printing?” Thorough, balanced, and informative, it discusses the major technologies of additive manufacturing. And there’s a decent infographic included.