3d printing…like a hot glue gun?

3d printers may not be a pervasive technology at this moment, but the tide is changing. Awareness of the technology is growing . People are beginning to see the potential of 3d printing. This is especially true when you talk about 3d printing compared to older technologies. And while analogies may not be exact, they are useful.

The most common, and unprompted, comparison is with a hot melt glue gun. When you start explaining the extrusion process people lock onto that comparison. And thats enough to begin to make an unknown process knowable.

It is important, I think, to take technologies out into “the wild”. By talking to people we can understand how they put new tools into a familiar context. And from that foundation we can build the discussion, later by layer.

So I spent three sweltering days in a large tin shed as farmers and farm families, wandered by. At least half the folks stopped to look, and from that half another half engaged in conversation. And if I had to guess, I’d estimate that at least 25 conversations were more than just polite curiosity.

It is easy to preach to the choir. But if we have hope in technology as a tool to make the world better, more humane and human, the easy conversations aren’t the ones we need to have.

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