Re: 3D printers - what are they?

From: Marshall Burns (
Date: Tue Oct 28 1997 - 23:43:21 EET

Elaine T. Hunt wrote:

> I look forward to the day when students can do freeform CAD design, tweak it with colors, texture, materials, and enhance features then print out their creations.

    Yes! Yes!

Let me offer another thought on this thread. Over the course of the 1980's I learned to use computer word processors and found them convenient for preparing formal documents. But when it came to creative brainstorming, my trusty yellow pad and pencil held my loyalty for some time. That was until I started noticing that some of the ideas written down on those pads later became the core of papers, stories, proposals, or other formal documents. Then I was unhappy about the chore of transcribing my notes into the computer.

I remember several times, maybe in the late 80s or early 90s, sitting down on my couch or the edge of the bed with a yellow pad and comfortably starting to jot ideas. Then it would occur to me that what I was writing might later be useful and I would face the ugly chore of transcription. So I put the pad down, went over to the (still quite primitive; anyone remember WordStar?) computer and started typing. The up-front labor was harder, but I did it to save downstream effort on the off chance that what I produced looked any good.

It was not long after that time before my personal letters, journals, and all other writing was done at the keyboard instead of the yellow pad. It still takes greater up front effort, but the digitized storage and reusability is worth it. Other important benefits are that I no longer have to worry about reading my handwriting, when I want to add text in the middle of a sentence it doesn't make a mess, and my spelling is automatically corrected.

I predict there will be a similar transformation in the thinking of all manner of people who work with 3-D concepts, from manufacturing engineers to interior designers and plastic surgeons. With some reasonably future incarnation of something like TriSpectives, these people will gradually and one-at-a-time switch from pencil sketches to CAD drawings. And send their output to fabricators!

Best Regards, Marshall Burns

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