Actor Neil Patrick Harris started 3D printing this week in a live event.
Organized by Fabbaloo friend Joel Telling of 3D Printing Nerd, the two-hour event showed Harris unboxing and successfully setting up a Prusa MK3S desktop 3D printer. During the event Telling would provide advice step-by-step for Harris as he went about setting up the popular device.
The event was fascinating to watch, as Harris appeared to have basically no experience with 3D printers — or perhaps he was just acting the part?
Fortunately, the Prusa MK3S is certainly one of the easiest desktop units one could hope to use, and it came through brilliantly in this live demonstration. Harris was able, with some minor assistance from Telling, to unbox, configure and load filament on the device.
A special moment occurred when the first print was initiated, where Harris brought his son into the scene. Everyone witness the magic of an object appearing from thin air in the machine, and that’s something every child should experience. Here we saw that moment live, in front of thousands.
Harris was able to 3D print items that were previously expertly sliced by Prusa Research and stored on the included SD card. These models were highly optimized at the factory to ensure they come out near-perfect, and that was Harris’ experience as well.
You can watch the entire event here:
While Harris was immediately successful, there are some additional steps to take. The normal progression for those with new desktop 3D printers is as follows:
- 3D print sample items provided by the manufacturer
- Find some 3D models made by others on public repositories like Thingiverse and Prusa Printers and print them
- Learn a CAD tool and design your own 3D models for printing
The first step is easy, and that’s why it fit into the two hour live event. However, the next step is more challenging, and the final step is so complex that many never get that far. Perhaps Harris will eventually become a 3D CAD designer, but we’ll see how that goes.
I’ve gone through this very experience myself several times with 3D printing newbies, although not with anyone as well-known as Harris. To be honest, it is a little frustrating as there is so much to know and so much to tell that in the end you have to let the new user proceed and make their own mistakes, just as you did years earlier.
Harris has a very large following, with over 26M followers on Twitter, over 8M followers on Instagram and almost 4M followers on Facebook. That’s almost 40M people! If ever 3D printing got wide exposure, this was certainly it.
I would not be surprised if Prusa Research this week saw a large bump in sales from Harris’ followers who were wowed by the 3D printing demonstration. For example, if 0.1% of his followers showed interest, that would imply sales of 40,000 devices, or US$40M in sales.
That is a massive amount of equipment. It should be interesting to watch the Prusa Research delivery timeline over the next while. If it clogs up, then we may see demand slide over to other desktop 3D printer vendors.