Mat Janson Blanchet's academic works

Thoughts on personal fabrication and manufacturing

Posted on August 17, 2020

Human-Computer Interaction for User Experience Design


As you learned in the enrichment activity in this unit, personal fabrication is a powerful tool that has the potential to change the way products are manufactured. Read about the impact of 3D printing on auto manufacturing, and share your thoughts and ideas about how personal fabrication will continue to affect this industry in the future, and how it might impact other manufacturing industries.


The shared article presents an interesting point: the car industry is not yet moving full throttle towards 3D printing because the method does not yet support materials with which they are already familiar.

There are a few items to unpack with this point: first, this could be seen as the same behaviour as when they do not push for electrification of vehicles, because they are not yet familiar with it.

Also, this points to another facet, which is that the 3D printing market is not just made for the car industry, so either they adapt to which materials work with the process, or they invest to expand the possibilities of the process to match their needs.

As to whether or not 3D printing is the future of anything, I would say no, it’s actually the present. Movie props, toys, furniture, electronics, etc., there are already tons of things that are built or prototyped with 3D printing. If the quality of the print cannot necessarily always be used for manufacturing—as the article mentioned—3D printed parts could either serve as a base for a mould for manufacture-ready pieces, or as this module’s theme, prototyping.

The true future of 3D printing is twofold: access and simplification.

Currently, if one wants to 3D print something, it’s most often needed to buy the device, build it, and figure out how to create the 3D model, and only then is it possible to print. There are relatively few publicly available labs or places that offer this kind of service. When such a place exists, the service or the print is not always worth the price paid. There are great strides to do in this field.

Finally, even if 3D printing shops were as available as photocopiers, even rarer are those who are able to build a 3D model which is printable. There are many complexities around this domain for laypeople, and hiring an expert is too expensive for the end results. It would be great if there were more efforts put—like Professor Matusik’s—in making 3D software easy to use for novices.

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