3D printing is a hot topic these days, as the technology grows and designers, artist, architects, and others experiment with its raw but evolving potential. Some call it revolutionary, a "third industrial revolution" that will change the way goods are made and delivered.
All images via Azure
Others see it as solving the world's engineering problems, while others decry it as environmentally dubious, or an endless stream of twee and pointless knick-knacks. A new documentary titled "Print the Legend" explores how the desktop 3D-printing industry is morphing in similar ways to previous tech industries and along with that comes an array of issues positive and negative.
The film is available on Netflix and will be shown in theaters in New York and Los Angeles. It focuses on the characters fueling the industry, as they navigate its exploding growth. The two stars of the doc are Makerbot and Formlabs, the leading consumer desktop manufacturers that have taken a Silicon Valley-style startup mentality to the 3D-printing market. Two larger, industrial manufacturers are cast in supporting roles — 3D Systems and Stratasys — who have grown into international giants.
To illustrate this growth, the film employs a colored line showing the number of employees at each company. The scale of bigger 3D Systems and tiny Formlabs is evident, and the different types of products, markets, and managerial strategies become apparent.
One other story that is highlighted in the category of “law student / anarchist” is the story of Cody Wilson, a kid in Texas who printed a handgun, creating a media spectacle that brought practical, legal, and ethical questions to the fore. It is just one of the many stories within the story of what could be a passing fad or a serious up-ending of the industrial production cycle.