What 3D print power users are doing to create 3D CAD designs that sell and equally as important: are printable. Stand out as a 3D print designer by taking into consideration what many 3D print users don’t, your “what.”
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How to Be a 3D Print Power User
What does it really mean to be a 3D print power user? Someone called us out on social media saying that we were “3D print power users” or a “3D print power desinger” – I can’t remember the exact terms, but it got me thinking about what it really means and how we are different than your average 3D print user. We are different in different ways than a lot of other users of 3D printing; the idea that the majority that we do is design from scratch. We are highly capable of designing from scratch. We know when it is not worth recreating something when another designer has something better, or when it is just a component where you might as well just download it. We do it in the most efficient way. We look at it, as a 3D printer power user, from an efficiency standpoint.
We are not purist in thinking that we have to design everything. We look at that from a standpoint of efficiency. Let’s be as efficient as possible to achieve the goal that we want to reach. If you are a 3D print power user, you need to have a good knowledge of CAD software. Get to a point where using it is just like breathing. The basis of everything is that we are extreme CAD users. We have that capability in house. It is never a barrier to making and designing anything. If you don’t have those CAD skills and you want to be a 3D print power user, you got to go and get them. Get those skills, pick a program that you think is the best, and get a lot of hours under your belt in using it. Using it becomes second nature is key to being a 3D print power user.
We have a ton of prolific ideas. We are never short of ideas on what to 3D print. We are extremely prolific in our idea generation. We can’t execute every idea that we have. We need to have a staff of a dozen people executing the things that we need to do. We don’t have any shortage of ideas. It is just the way we are, we are creative people and we are always thinking of different ideas. Our biggest challenge is figuring which ones are the most likely to come to reality quickly, and which are the most important ones to take advantage of.
I have been working on a keynote speech on training your brain to generate prolific ideas. The reality is, it is not something that we were just born with. We are born with a natural inclination to be creative, but I think we’ve trained ourselves to be as prolific as we are, because it is a necessity in our business. We had to be fast for our clients and keep up with the speed. We train ourselves to generate a lot of ideas and discard the ones that won’t work. Personally, I see very quickly the ones that won’t work. When I look at someone’s product, I can see the path of it being successful or I can see if it’s a dead end. I look at the idea and say whether it will be a success or not. I don’t throw out ideas completely because it could be a timing issue.
Today, it may not be in a decade, but today, in the desktop 3D printing industry, if you are going to be a 3D print power user, you need to be intimate with the machine that you buy. Get to the point where you can upgrade that machine so it runs consistently and with predictability. Thinking about it from the days that we first got it, it took us a while to get to the point. We were printing everyday all the time for the first 6 months period. When you get to that point, you are putting your 10,000 hours in quickly. You have to force yourself into that situation in which you are consistently printing so that the problems that come up can all be solved by learning as you go with them. It makes you faster in diagnosing those issues.
A 3D print power user is not just going to have one machine, a 3D print power user is going to have multiple machines and try multiple machines. This is what we did in the first year and a half of our 3D printing experience. To really understand all the ins and outs of modern FFF desktop 3D printing, you really have to be a technician. I don’t want to be a technician in terms of all the time I spend a day because I am a designer, but to be a 3D print power user, you need to be one. There are a lot of things you can do with different slicing software and learning all the ins and outs of it. There is no end to it.
It is a mistake for companies who treat those types of things in a silo. Like with Mark Palmer, when you get into that situation where it is right there next to you, it happens to a lot of large industrial design firms. They don’t let that happen. They want the designer to be designing and the technician to be upgrading the machine, in order to be a really good designer of something that is 3D printed or to use 3D printing to its full potential, you need to have a good understanding of that print process and what that machine can do and what its capabilities are. It’s like what we say about being a good designer, you can be a good designer unless you get your body into factories and see how things are manufactured.
We use that in all aspects of our business. We sketch and we don’t just draw it into the computer. We have an understanding of form and doing. We go into everything. We have also intimately built those things too. I have woven and threaded it. When I design it professionally, I have an intimate understanding of it difficulty and I find ways to make it more efficient, in turn making me a better designer. It doesn’t have to be all 3D printing. I don’t think it is an ideal world that everything should be 3D printed. There is a place and a time for it. At the end of the day, if I wanted to go and buy something that is beautiful leather, I am going to go to Italy or go to other countries where they have core competence on it.
Final Thoughts on 3D Print Power Users
It is not all about one country. It is the same thing in technology. It is not all about 3D printing. Some things are not best done in 3D print. Having an open mind to the materials that are used and not 3D printing something just because you can but 3D printing is the reality. This is because it makes sense in a bigger context. The last thing for being a 3D print power user is that we also are open to the fact that we don’t have to do it all ourselves. There are service bureaus out there. There are so many materials out there to be working with.
It is an aspect of us as a 3D print power user. I don’t think it necessarily has to be. It depends on what your business is and what you are in whether or not it makes sense. It may not make sense at all in a world of sculptors or a jewelry designer. It doesn’t matter in how they are using it in their process. When I think about it, I think it comes back to power users being somewhat agnostic about the process whether it is 3D printed. There is also an aspect to being a power user that is pushing the edge of the envelope with experimenting on the materials and trying to achieve different things on 3D printing of different materials.
Multi material printers that are practical where I can print materials and different colors in one print successfully are complicated. The over arching thing that makes us power users is that because we are too bullish on 3D printing and it is not because we latched on to a technology. We have the perspective of so many different types of manufacturing processes and so many different types of design processes. We have that broad range of materials. We still look at 3D printing and we say that this holds a key to the future that not lots of people see. They may see lots of aspects to it, but we see a path by which this can change and disrupt a lot of things that are going on in the retail industrial and design worlds today. There are lots of different kinds of 3D print power users out there, let us know if you are one or know one – we might do a feature or shout out!
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