Bits From Bytes Gets New Website and a RapChick!

By on December 5th, 2010 in Ideas, printer

Tags: ,

We’ve been waiting to see what 3D Systems will do with their latest corporate acquisition, Bits From Bytes. BfB’s market is quite a diversion from 3D System’s normal industrial/commercial clientele. How will they take on this marketplace. This week we see two elements of their new strategy.
 
First, 3D Systems has completely replaced the rather awkward original BfB website with a full-on 21st century website design, with a friendly style specifically to address their brand-new markets: academic, home and small business. Two approaches for two very different markets.  
 
The second move is much more interesting: The RapChick! 
 
This is an unprecedented move in 3D Printing, as far as we can tell. The RapChick is a 3D printer specifically designed for women. The RapChick is a kit, we suspect based on the highly successful RapMan, but there’s a difference: 
 
The new RapChick 3D Printer Kit was designed by Ian Adkins, founder of BfB, especially for female users in response to the growing numbers of women engineers and creators within our community.  The RapChick features pink accents and unique branding that will appeal to this rapidly expanding, underserved audience.
 
We’re quite excited about this step encouraging more women into 3D printing, as it has been a male-dominated space for many years. They’ll bring fresh perspectives and new ideas. All good, but will other 3D printing companies and services take up this challenge? 
  

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

14 comments

  1. I absolutely agree that RapChick is a terrible name. I don't understand why Cathy Lewis thinks the machine has to have a gendered name at all. I'd call it "RapPink", personally.

  2. I absolutely agree that RapChick is a terrible name. I don't understand why Cathy Lewis thinks the machine has to have a gendered name at all. I'd call it "RapPink", personally.

  3. I think @NicholasCLewis on twitter said it best: "it is not bad to add color choices. It is bad to say "Blue is for boys, pink is for girls" as a rule." Think about when Apple added different colored iPods, they offered a range of colors instead of making a pink one and calling it iPod – For Girls. I'm a man and even I was instantly turned off when I heard about this.

  4. I think @NicholasCLewis on twitter said it best: "it is not bad to add color choices. It is bad to say "Blue is for boys, pink is for girls" as a rule." Think about when Apple added different colored iPods, they offered a range of colors instead of making a pink one and calling it iPod – For Girls. I'm a man and even I was instantly turned off when I heard about this.

  5. Hello Cathy, I do applaud what BfB are doing but to truly democatise 3D printing (as BfB and 3D systems say you are doing) the focus has to be on usability. No mention was made of any improvements. Is the RapChick the same as the Rapman?
    Rapidly expanding, underserved audience don’t want to grapple with learning technical stuff to process 3D data or fiddle with the hardware to keep the printer going (see today's Fabbaloo blog). For less technically minded groups Rapman and RapChick kits are not the way to get engaged with 3D printing as kits appeal to groups already connected to the concept.
    You and I know that the 'rapidly expanding, underserved audience' you and I want to target do have more pressing things to do. For applied artists like myself this is design, make and market, not spend precious creative time, and money, building for the technical exercise and a few quid off. I would get a loan to buy the BfB3000 once it is easier to plug, process, print my .slt file.

    What is special with the Rapman is that the build process is so visable and this is vital to understanding the concept and therefor the constraints and potential that need to be applied to designing objects to be printed. As to the name RapChick it will serve its purpose if this discussion goes beyond the 3D print community. I dislike the name Rapman for its suggested gender bias too so my suggestion would be for a neutral but funky term to get across the excitment generated when the first printed object is peeled off the base plate!

  6. Hello Cathy, I do applaud what BfB are doing but to truly democatise 3D printing (as BfB and 3D systems say you are doing) the focus has to be on usability. No mention was made of any improvements. Is the RapChick the same as the Rapman?
    Rapidly expanding, underserved audience don’t want to grapple with learning technical stuff to process 3D data or fiddle with the hardware to keep the printer going (see today's Fabbaloo blog). For less technically minded groups Rapman and RapChick kits are not the way to get engaged with 3D printing as kits appeal to groups already connected to the concept.
    You and I know that the 'rapidly expanding, underserved audience' you and I want to target do have more pressing things to do. For applied artists like myself this is design, make and market, not spend precious creative time, and money, building for the technical exercise and a few quid off. I would get a loan to buy the BfB3000 once it is easier to plug, process, print my .slt file.

    What is special with the Rapman is that the build process is so visable and this is vital to understanding the concept and therefor the constraints and potential that need to be applied to designing objects to be printed. As to the name RapChick it will serve its purpose if this discussion goes beyond the 3D print community. I dislike the name Rapman for its suggested gender bias too so my suggestion would be for a neutral but funky term to get across the excitment generated when the first printed object is peeled off the base plate!

  7. I wanted to join in this discussion and provide some additional context for your consideration. And I will find and read the referenced document from above over the next few days – thanks!

    First, please know that the BfB and 3D Systems teams do not wish to offend anyone – our intent with RapChick was to broaden the current conversation on the topic of 3D printing and get more women and girls talking about and using 3D printers and other 3D tools. By the way, the first RapChick 3D Printer Kit was purchased off the floor last week during the Euromold Exhibit and Conference.

    We are receiving a mixed response on the name but it is also creating even more dialog than we had hoped. So let me ask – if not RapChick is there another choice? RapPrincess, RapGirl? Or are you of the opinion that we do not want to be called out separately – that we prefer no distinction based on gender? Should people – all of us – be able to name our printers as an option?

    This area of open source and extremely low cost product is new ground for 3D Systems – but we are fully committed to democratizing access to affordable, easy to use 3D content-to-print solutions. Witness the fact that it is 10 pm and I am still in the office and writing this post. That said, if we find that the overall perception is negative and that we have made a mistake with RapChick we promise that we will quickly 'retire' the name altogether.

  8. I wanted to join in this discussion and provide some additional context for your consideration. And I will find and read the referenced document from above over the next few days – thanks!

    First, please know that the BfB and 3D Systems teams do not wish to offend anyone – our intent with RapChick was to broaden the current conversation on the topic of 3D printing and get more women and girls talking about and using 3D printers and other 3D tools. By the way, the first RapChick 3D Printer Kit was purchased off the floor last week during the Euromold Exhibit and Conference.

    We are receiving a mixed response on the name but it is also creating even more dialog than we had hoped. So let me ask – if not RapChick is there another choice? RapPrincess, RapGirl? Or are you of the opinion that we do not want to be called out separately – that we prefer no distinction based on gender? Should people – all of us – be able to name our printers as an option?

    This area of open source and extremely low cost product is new ground for 3D Systems – but we are fully committed to democratizing access to affordable, easy to use 3D content-to-print solutions. Witness the fact that it is 10 pm and I am still in the office and writing this post. That said, if we find that the overall perception is negative and that we have made a mistake with RapChick we promise that we will quickly 'retire' the name altogether.

  9. My immediate response on reading about BfB's 'new RapChick 3D Printer kit designed especially for female users' was despair and 'featuring pink accents' made me livid. This is so demeaning and to explain why I have attached a link to an article that all designers should read. http://www.femmeden.com/pdf/SmartDesign_SexontheBrain.pdf

    It is not be about targeting women, it is about understanding how to be inclusive as there are a lot of people – of both genders and all ages – who would prefer a less techie geeky 3D printer. For this I applaud BfB as I hope this will break down one of the main barriers that we encounter regarding our 3D sketch/modelling software that is easy to learn and use (think 'pencil' concept and potential for creativity). This is that the main influencers and budget holders for purchasing 3D hardware and software do not on the whole seem to be able to grasp and understand how alienating overly technical and complex h/ware and s/ware (most CAD packages) are for many creative people, especially in the arts and applied arts. As you need a 3D digital model for 3D printing this can bar access. There is a double whammy if you want your own Rapman. CAD on its own demands huge time, effort and costs to learn and use. For these groups it does nor fit easily into their way of doing and thinking. They are not using CAD 4/5 days a week, 4 weeks a month, etc, and can't afford the time to have to keep relearning it. The research project I led at Edinburgh College of Art and Edinburgh University (2000 – 2004) threw up many issues and corroborated many of my own experiences.

    I only really grasped what was special about our Cloud9 3D haptic sketch modelling software when I read the femmeden article above a few years ago – Cloud9 is INCLUSIVE. This is mainly because we have a different perspective to software development: the original research was led by applied artists and artists in an art college, and the spin-out company, Anarkik3D, has a CEO who is a designer and artist (and female) and the senior programming engineer mainly involved with Cloud9 development has an artistic side and is female. We have a good overall gender and age balance!

  10. My immediate response on reading about BfB's 'new RapChick 3D Printer kit designed especially for female users' was despair and 'featuring pink accents' made me livid. This is so demeaning and to explain why I have attached a link to an article that all designers should read. http://www.femmeden.com/pdf/SmartDesign_SexontheBrain.pdf

    It is not be about targeting women, it is about understanding how to be inclusive as there are a lot of people – of both genders and all ages – who would prefer a less techie geeky 3D printer. For this I applaud BfB as I hope this will break down one of the main barriers that we encounter regarding our 3D sketch/modelling software that is easy to learn and use (think 'pencil' concept and potential for creativity). This is that the main influencers and budget holders for purchasing 3D hardware and software do not on the whole seem to be able to grasp and understand how alienating overly technical and complex h/ware and s/ware (most CAD packages) are for many creative people, especially in the arts and applied arts. As you need a 3D digital model for 3D printing this can bar access. There is a double whammy if you want your own Rapman. CAD on its own demands huge time, effort and costs to learn and use. For these groups it does nor fit easily into their way of doing and thinking. They are not using CAD 4/5 days a week, 4 weeks a month, etc, and can't afford the time to have to keep relearning it. The research project I led at Edinburgh College of Art and Edinburgh University (2000 – 2004) threw up many issues and corroborated many of my own experiences.

    I only really grasped what was special about our Cloud9 3D haptic sketch modelling software when I read the femmeden article above a few years ago – Cloud9 is INCLUSIVE. This is mainly because we have a different perspective to software development: the original research was led by applied artists and artists in an art college, and the spin-out company, Anarkik3D, has a CEO who is a designer and artist (and female) and the senior programming engineer mainly involved with Cloud9 development has an artistic side and is female. We have a good overall gender and age balance!

  11. I tend to agree – but here's a bit more to consider: Obviously a pretty pink printer isn't going to be something a serious maker would care about, but those very young women (children, really) who would otherwise have never heard about 3D Printing, now have something, if only a concept, to at least introduce them to the topic. Perhaps someone outside the 3D space hears about it on the news and points them to it. Even if the child never uses or even sees a RapChick, they'll know about 3D Printer and otherwise might not have.

  12. I tend to agree – but here's a bit more to consider: Obviously a pretty pink printer isn't going to be something a serious maker would care about, but those very young women (children, really) who would otherwise have never heard about 3D Printing, now have something, if only a concept, to at least introduce them to the topic. Perhaps someone outside the 3D space hears about it on the news and points them to it. Even if the child never uses or even sees a RapChick, they'll know about 3D Printer and otherwise might not have.

  13. This is absolutely NOT how to attract women to 3-d printing. Simply making something pink is by no means an acceptable way of marketing to female engineers and creators! Frankly, I'm insulted that a dolled-up clone with "chick" in the name is BfB's way of reaching out to technically minded, creative, capable women.

  14. This is absolutely NOT how to attract women to 3-d printing. Simply making something pink is by no means an acceptable way of marketing to female engineers and creators! Frankly, I'm insulted that a dolled-up clone with "chick" in the name is BfB's way of reaching out to technically minded, creative, capable women.

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