Before You Cancel Netflix, Relive the Early Days of 3D Printing

By on February 21st, 2023 in news, video

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Print the Legend [Source: Netflix]

There’s something you should watch on Netflix, and it is specifically about 3D printing.

You may have heard of Netflix’s recent change in policy where they will now charge for account users not at the primary location. This is pretty much a straight-up money grab by Netflix, and is pretty ironic considering a few years ago they encouraged subscribers to add family and friends.

As a result of this policy change, it seems there are a great number of people nuking their Netflix accounts: why pay more for the same service? That and the fact that the streaming company keeps cancelling series that I and others begin watching but can never finish.

In fact, a recent survey of Ontario residents revealed that an astonishing 57% intend on canceling their Netflix accounts outright. I’m strongly considering doing so myself.

But then I asked myself, is there anything on Netflix that I should watch before turning it off?

There is! And it has a lot to do with 3D printing.

In 2014 Netflix released “Print the Legend”, a documentary on the beginnings of desktop 3D printing.

I know that the vast majority of those in the 3D print space today are relative newcomers. Back in 2014 there were very few of us involved, and it was possible to know most of them.

Things have changed quite a bit since then.

There are many more people involved, to be sure, but another thing that has significantly changed is attitude.

2014 was the absolute peak for the hype around 3D printing. It was then thought to be the beginnings of a revolutionary Star Trek-like future where machines would be able to “replicate” everything and anything on demand.

Avi Reichental, then CEO of 3D Systems [Source: Print the Legend / Netflix]

Many of the players of the day insisted that everyone should have 3D printers in their home. These machines would busily produce any parts required and eliminate trips to the hardware store. I even heard one suggest the bedroom was a good place for a 3D printer.

Those were very heady days.

That feeling is almost totally gone now. After struggling through the realization that there was no “killer app” for 3D printers, that machines were completely unreliable, and that there was basically little easily found appropriate content, attitudes changed immensely.

Thereafter those in the industry mostly pursued more professional and realistic applications, and the mass media hype faded.

These new professional applications were found and that’s basically where we are today: An increasing use of the technology in industry and professions, with more advanced technology slowly building on the desktop.

Watching Print The Legend again takes one back to those glory days in the early era of desktop 3D printing. It’s something that relatively few newcomers understand today, and will be quite shocking to see with 2023 eyes.

The original MakerBot crew [Source: Print the Legend / Netflix]

The film mostly follows the early days of both MakerBot and Formlabs, two companies that are (mostly) still around producing 3D printers. Interestingly, neither company now produces machines designed for their original DIY customer base, as they both address professional markets today.

MakerBot’s then-CEO, Bre Pettis [Source: Print the Legend / Netflix]

There are appearances by all the key players of those days, including MakerBot’s original pitchman, Bre Pettis. You’ll see his journey from crazy open source makerspace inventions all the way to corporate buyout.

Max Lobovsky, CEO of Formlabs and team [Source: Print the Legend / Netflix]

You’ll also see a very young Max Lobovsky, one of the key founders of Formlabs, as he struggled through the initial developments of their Form 1 3D printer, fueled by the biggest Kickstarter campaign to that date.

Print the Legend web page [Source: Netflix]

Lobovsky also appears in the Netflix cover page for the film.

I cannot possibly imagine a similar documentary being produced today — especially by Netflix. This shows you how high the hype levels were at the time: high enough to make a documentary about it.

Bre Pettis announcing new MakerBots in 2013 [Source: Print the Legend / Netflix]

For me, this documentary brings back many memories, as I have met many of the people who appear in the film. In fact, I was actually in the room during some of the filming.

If you’ve been into 3D printing for a long time, or if it’s still new to you, please watch this amazing documentary.

It will show you how this crazy industry we all live in came to be.

Via Netflix

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!

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