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Why 3D Printing Won’t Put China Out of Business. It’s a Fad Just Like 2D Printing.

Make Your Own Shaving Cream or Shaving Gel

Gillette sells billions of dollars of shaving cream every year, yet people can (and some do) make their own shaving cream. It’s often forgotten why people buy a product. People buy a product because of the emotional attachment to it. This is also known as branding. That’s why 3D printing will be just a fad like 2D printing.

What ever happened to printing books at home to save on the cost of actually buying the book?

That fear never really panned. But few forget that was a real fear. Desktop publishing only took off in the professional sense. But many hoped and feared that every American was going to make greeting cards at home and put the greeting card business out of business. Never happened. Vistaprint does just fine.

I certainly believe that 3D printing will have its place. It seems to have some place in the medical community, but home 3D printing will just be a novelty at best. This is because humans want order, and to create things at home is disorder. Trust me. I know.

People are generally lazy. There are umpteen printers that can print photo quality prints. I have many glossy and matte-finished prints of photos printing from an inkjet printer that have lasted for years. Still, services like Snapfish and Shutterfly are booming businesses because people don’t want to print their own photos. Will 3D printing be any different? Of course not! But the proponents and investor blogs will say, “It’s different this time.” There is no doubt that photo-quality prints from a standard printer is much better than developing prints in a lab with expensive chemicals, but people just won’t be printing 3D objects at home.

Third Party 3D Designs.

The rallying cry is that there will be 3rd party 3D designs. Big deal. There are plenty of professional grade photos to print. Has no one ever heard of iStock or Getty Images? Seriously, we’ve been through this before. No one is going to download a bunch of 3D plans and print plastic objects at home. There may be a market for this, but it will be small.

The realm of 3D is incredibly complex. The 2D print is simple. It’s flat, has 16 million colors and that’s about it. When getting into creating real world objects, it gets complicated. What material should be used? Wood, metal, plastic, Styrofoam, acrylic, and so on. I only mentioned a few but when multiplied by the amount of different shapes and colors that are in everyday objects, the numbers get huge—really huge. No one 3D printer could possibly handle all that. Therein lies the dilemma. You got yourself a 3D printer for Christmas and now it can’t print out a pair of shoes (from a design you downloaded from Kazaa) because you don’t have the satin cartridge for your printer. Bummer. This is why 3D printers won’t put China out of business.

But the real reason is that people love brands. Brands identified with basketball players, beautiful women, happy children and impossible dogs.

So, it’s all about the brand. People love brands. You can make the best cheeseburger at home in your back yard, but you’re still going to go to McDonald’s. Eddie Murphy once did a bit back in the eighties about a McDonald’s burger versus a burger at home. On the surface, he was making fun of the quality between the two burgers, but really he was making a comment on the power of branding. People like brands because it brings about order. People know what a Big Mac is, and they know exactly what they’re going to get. When people go to your house to have a cheeseburger, they don’t know exactly what they’re going to get. They feel comfortable in McDonald’s with a Big Mac, but not so much in your house with your “cheeseburger” fresh off the grill–otherwise you’d be raking it in and putting burger joints out of business.