In a recent interview for Dezeen, architect, industrial designer and artist, Ron Arad stated that 3D Printing is abused by designers, in much the same way as musicians used synthesizers in the past.
“Synthesisers were abused completely and so is this technology we’re talking about” Ron Arad
Now while this statement may have have an element of truth, it is worth exploring the comparison in the context of Ron’s position in the design world, and what this concept opens up.
First, let’s compare the 3D printer and the synthesizer.
The first analogue synthesizers made it possible for one instrument to make a massive range of sounds. Professional musicians used these expensive synthesizers to emulate existing instruments in a recording studio and on stage, to broaden their palette of available sounds, whilst only needing to know how to play the keyboard, not strings, woodwind, brass, etc. At the same time some more experimental musicians started to experiment with the synthesizers to make sounds that were otherwise impossible, tweaking resonant filters and using effects to make sounds that were unique to the synthesizer.
The first 3D Printers (or rapid prototyping machines) made it possible to make a massive range of shapes. Engineers and designers used these expensive 3D printers to emulate products quickly in their studios and workshops, to test parts before manufacturing. For many years this remained the case, the 3D prints were expensive and only used to emulate other materials and processes.