Charles Goulding, Jr. considers the creative intersection between TikTok and 3D printing.
TikTok is a story of innovation. The platform itself is a novel advancement within a stagnant social media landscape. What’s more, the app has helped spawn a new generation of accessories to aid the creative process. Lastly and most relevant to 3D printing, creators use TikTok widely to show off their 3D printed inventions.
A Truly New App
TikTok may look like YouTube. But the app is unique in the way it uses audio. If one creator selects an audio clip — say music to make a dance with — it’s easy for another creator to use the same music to make the same dance. The new user doesn’t have to make the same video (i.e., they can make their own totally original video, with their own audio), but if they do make a meme, they’ll take part in a trend that TikTok’s AI learns to promote. In this way, creators are encouraged to riff off of one another, providing a fascinating (and often humorous) glimpse into the creative process.
TikTok comes at a time of stagnation in the social media industry. In the past five years, Facebook and Instagram have barely changed their interfaces. Likewise, the biggest change on Twitter has been its expansion from 140 to 280 characters. Some of that stagnation has resulted from the monopolies Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter hold — monopolies TikTok managed, improbably, to pierce.
Creators seem to love making TikTok videos, and that joy has helped inspire a new generation of creative accessories. The most noticeable example is the Ring Light (aka the Selfie Ring Light) — a dimmable LED shaped as a circle. Why the ring shape? Because the camera goes in the center, where it doesn’t cast a shadow.
What else are creators buying? New generations of tripod stands, cellphone holders (phones often serve as video cameras), Bluetooth remotes, and microphone clips, among other items.
Bring on the 3D Printers
TikTok videos can receive millions of likes, and tens of millions of views. The most popular TikToks almost always involve short bursts of visual creativity, whether or not accompanied by a song, and whether or not intended as a meme.
With its visual appeal, the 3D printing process is a perfect fit for TikTok. Not only is the process a time-delay marvel, the finished products are unique, sometimes zany creations that serve as ideal culminations to a clip.
Examples of 3D printing TikToks abound, many of which are searchable with the hashtag #3dprinting.
An AirPod docking station shaped as an Among Us character printed and filmed by @david3dprinter
And a fully 3D-printed Iron Man outfit by @emily.the.engineer
TikTok celebrates creativity. An innovative spirit suffuses everything from the structure of the app to the way creators make and perfect videos. 3D printing is a natural fit for the platform. In all likelihood, amateurs and professionals alike will continue looking to the app to showcase their products and inventions.