With so many 3D printing forums available online, what about the printing forums available in the real world where you can mingle, share ideas, and create from a publicly-available 3D printer? Those type of places may become the popular hangouts before long as public locations gain access to 3D printers for the public to use at will. Some of the most common locations for that are now in public libraries, which may change how we've viewed public libraries all these years.
Whether your local library has a 3D printer or not is going to depend on what their budget is. The CBC in Canada recently reported that numerous public libraries are starting to acquire 3D printers up there, giving people a new venue to hang out with 3D printer technicians, learn some new things, and create something, all for free. It's similar to the early days of the Internet in the 1990s when you had to sign up for computer time and learn the ropes with the help of volunteers.
Public libraries are the perfect venue to learn such things when some people don't have the time or finances to learn the details of 3D printing in school. While the push for 3D printing in public schools goes on, adults wanting to learn more about 3D printing have the advantage now of the public libraries to learn.
But it doesn't stop there in publicly accessible 3D printers. Other 3D printing venues are popping up in Canada that America and other parts of the world may soon copy.
Will "Makerspace" Become a Household Word?
Once again, up in Canada, they're starting to create 3D printing locations called makerspaces (sometimes called hackspaces) that have a tech staff on hand to help you with 3D printing. It's the equivalent of the Genius Bars at Apple where you can learn something for free from computer technicians. Only, you won't have to worry about troubleshooting and instead gain help in creating something on a 3D printer.
Having these resources available (and online) may explain why 3D printer sales have slowed just a tad this year. Many people figure that if they can gain access to 3D printers for free in a public library, a makerspace, or buy customized 3D-printed items online, why bother to buy a 3D printer?
The above possibility is an issue that 3D printer makers may not worry about since their printers still have to be purchased from these companies in order to accommodate visitors. And considering one has to travel to gain access to the printer, consumers will likely warm to buying one for the home in time.
In the meantime, the makerspace may be the new favorite hangout for 3D printer aficionados where they can talk with experts face to face. It's a new way to move away from online forums and get real.