Richard ‘RichRap‘ Horne, RepRap engineer extraordinaire, is a bit of 3D printing genius. He also combines that attribute with humility and altruism: not always the most reconcilable of traits. This year he is bringing his insight, experience and wisdom to the TCT Show + Personalize in September, in a presentation entitled ‘3D Printing for Business and Pleasure.’
“I really want to try and get across some of the community developments going on in this industry, how an open nature of developments can be a good thing for both big businesses and the end consumer, individual engineer or small business,” he told TCT organisers. “I’m much less interested in the rush to consumers and more interested in connecting with people that need this technology for their business or hobby, that’s still what drives me.”
Horne observes, in my own opinion quite rightly, that: “The disconnect between the makers and bigger established businesses is still vast.”
Home 3D printing, spurred in no small way by Adrian Bowyer’s RepRap project, has evolved unto a point now where derivative designs have produced USD$300million companies: branching out from the ‘social-led’ corner to the ‘capital-led’ corner. In turn, Additive Manufacturing and 3D printing corporations such as 3D Systems have successfully started to permeate the home and prosumer markets, with devices that are technological equivalents of those that branched from RepRap.
But, whilst this meeting point exists, the outlook from the opposite ends of the spectrum are vastly different and have appeared almost irreconcilable until recently.
New additions that promise the next generation of home 3D printing, such as those from FormLabs (shipping), Pirate3D (heading to project) and botObjects (who knows?) bring forth new, promising avenues. But engagement between maker community innovators and traditionally minded corporate innovators still requires bridging a chasm:
“Things like open source licensing and the importance of attribution are still being totally ignored by big-name companies that should really understand the importance of this for their business and the wider community of designers and developers that could, in turn, support them,” says Richard.
“I visit [TCT Show + Personalize] now to meet people, listen and make real connections. I really look forward to meeting and talking to as many people as possible at the NEC in September. The Personalize section of last year’s show was really buzzing and the flow of information was constant and of a very high quality. I’m really looking forward to being a part of this year’s exhibition.”
Over the next year, Horne foresees the continued rise of accessible, low-cost 3D printers, peripherals and supporting digital infrastructure.
He warns however, like many specialists in the sector, that the mass media buzz around 3D printing may do as much harm as good: “The media do just what they need to get the headlines and unfortunately they are fed rather poor information by companies trying to keep the hype level high. As time goes on we will just see less positive things being reported…”
Richard Horne will continue to be a key link in any prospective chain between big business and home makers. His pending slot at TCT will be one which exudes and extrudes a wealth of insight into industry and innovation, potential and possibilities. It will certainly be an event to look forward to.
Anyone wishing to register for the The TCT Show + Personalize to check out Rich’s presentation, or indeed any of the other presenters, can do so here.