Evan Malmgren, writing for the Awl:
As the longtime poster child and one-time presumptive standard-bearer of small-scale “additive manufacturing” — the technical name for the process of 3D printing, which adds rather than strips away material — MakerBot’s rapid rise and equally blistering crash has mapped closely onto the public’s expectations of the technology. The desktop 3D industry is far from dead, but MakerBot’s difficulties are rooted in a broader contraction of the consumer market. The gatekeepers of viral tech-hype have largely stopped trumpeting consumer 3D printers as a revolutionary technology. Now that the dust is beginning to settle on the MakerBot saga, it seems like a good time to ask: what was all the hype about?
In some science fiction utopia, we’d create the physical objects we need from materials that were obtained in ethically-sound and environmentally-responsible ways, putting an end to rampant consumption and greatly increasing our ability to do things ourselves.
Of course, the word “utopia” has its roots in the Ancient Greek words for “no” and “place” — that is, a utopia cannot exist.