A provocative headline at LiveScience proclaims: "Why a DIY Pioneer Dislikes 3D Printing". The pioneer in this case is Neil Gershenfeld, director of MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms, someone who should know the space very well indeed.
It seems that Gershenfeld views the current state of "DIY" manufacturing as an extension of 1950's primitive CNC machinery. We agree with this - although we'd add that a major change has been the cost of said devices, allowing them to be in the hands of many more people.
Gershenfeld believes the efforts to develop and refine manufacturing capability will eventually lead to a Star Trek-like technology where the material itself is programmable, able to assemble into arbitrary shapes. We agree with this premise as well, although it will likely take a while before this stage appears.
One point we strongly agree with is Gershenfeld's suggestion that DIY is less than optimally organized:
What's wrong with DIY is if you do it by yourself, it's easy to do dumb things. If you learn with other people, you can do it better. A place like MIT is organized but it doesn't scale. We want to scale to a few billion people on the planet and harness the enthusiasm of the maker movement, but don't want to reinvent dumb things.
That is truth. We're all here inventing a new world; we might as well do it together and learn from everyone's mistakes and successes.
Image Credit: Wikipedia