Western vs. Asian 3D Printers: When AI Changes the Equation

By on February 13th, 2023 in Ideas, news

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AI-generated user interface [Source: Galileo AI]

AI will shake up the 3D printing industry in more ways than you might realize.

I’ve been carefully following the sudden and exponential use of highly advanced AI tools for an increasingly wide breadth of applications. While the most prominent applications are text and image generation, there are much more in the works, like music generation, software coding and classification.

One new AI application that caught my eye is from Galileo AI. What do they do? They explain:

“Galileo AI creates delightful, editable UI designs from a simple text description. It empowers you to design faster than ever.”

They produce user interfaces from a text prompt. One of their examples is the following. From this text prompt:

“A Profile page for a book-reading app featuring Dan Brown and a list of his books.”

You get this:

AI-generated user interface [Source: Galileo AI]

Looks pretty good!

The designs are exported to Figma, a popular online tool for collaboratively designing user interfaces. Galileo AI’s output basically gives you a massive head start on making an extremely cool user interface. From Figma it’s only a few short steps to deploying production code.

All right now, you’re probably asking what on Earth this has to do with 3D printing, so let me explain.

There’s currently a battle between Western and Asian low-cost 3D printer manufacturers for the desktop market. Here’s the situation:

  • The Western manufacturers produce good quality machines, and have excellent service and easy-to-use interfaces, but are relatively expensive.
  • The Asian manufacturers now also produce good quality machines, and invariably have difficult and confusing interfaces, but are always the lowest cost option.

The Western manufacturers continue operating because of their attention to the users through their service offerings and easy-to-use documentation, interfaces and other customer interactions. Not too long ago they could boast they offered superior hardware, but I’m not sure they still can say that, given the recent advances of Asian manufacturers.

The Asian manufacturers have always focused on low-cost options, initially because that was a way to sell equipment that didn’t quite match Western quality. However, over time they’ve grown and iteratively increased their device quality to the point where it’s very close if not the same as Western options in many cases. Combine that with the lower cost, and you can see what’s happening.

There’s one problem though: Asian companies consistently have very difficult user interfaces. Language barriers have yet to be properly breached, and for some reason these manufacturers will not invest in staff that know how to produce them. Perhaps they are too expensive and would upset their pricing models?

But now you can see what might happen when services like Galileo AI and its successors take hold. The Asian companies will be able to very quickly generate interfaces and perhaps even underlying code to make their systems far more appealing to Western buyers.

It could be a challenging future for Western manufacturers of inexpensive desktop 3D printers.

Via Galileo AI

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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