Seriously, I do applaud what BfB are doing but to truly democatise 3D printing (as BfB say they are doing), they have to also appeal to all rapidly expanding, underserved audiences. For non technical groups Rapman and RapChick kits are not the way to do this.Development must be on usability and understanding how to include people of all ages who have different learning styles, requirements and preferences who want to engage with this very exciting technology. So thank you, Shapeways, Sculpteo, and I am sure Ponoko – I haven’t experienced their 3D services yet – for making the route to 3D printing so straightforward.
There are those of us who know about 3D printing, and those who don’t. We’ve all seen the looks of awe from those transitioning to “those who know”, and we want more people to come over and realize what can be done with this technology.
Last week BfB made an attempt to bring 3D printing to more people by introducing the RapChick, a companion to their original RapMan kit. The RapChick was essentially identical, but included pink highlights and other features that attempted to attract a female audience.
We’re happy that BfB is trying to get more folks involved, but a controversy erupted over the validity of this approach. Female commenters didn’t believe the approach would work and were even offended by the method. One reader, Ann Marie Shillito (maker of a pretty amazing haptic design tool) posted a well-written piece on her thoughts on this matter:
We totally agree with this. The printer is not the issue; it’s the experience.
We’ve been thinking a lot about this and have another idea. But you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see it. Sorry!