A lot of people still are asking: What is 3D printing, and what will it really do to change our perceptions of manufacturing and view of the world? While we see plenty in print about what the technology will do (including our own blog analysis), there had yet to be an extensive visual documentary made exploring the subject. Earlier this year, a documentary was finally made called "Print the Legend" that played the SXSW Film Festival and managed to win an award there. While the obscure title might not resonate with those who don't follow 3D printing, it's a fantastic documentary providing a good start in covering the subject.
The film is going to be seen by more people now that Netflix has reportedly picked it up for instant streaming this coming September. It's a documentary worth catching because it follows every major development in 3D printing technology up to early this year. It particularly includes a look at the top two 3D printer makers, MakerBot and Formlabs as they set the standard for both consumer and commercial 3D printers in America.
At the same time, we also see how MakerBot has to go up against other big-name 3D printing companies in order to make inroads. It shows all the corporate jostling going on in trying to form one dominant company. However, MakerBot is starting to become one of the better known names thanks to other campaigns like attempting to bring 3D printers to every school in America.
Overall, "Print the Legend" is an important documentary, even if it faces a risk all 3D printing documentaries face: Being quickly outdated.
Should There Be a Continual Series of 3D Printing Documentaries?
We constantly note the nearly daily evolution of 3D printing here, and making a documentary intended to be viewed for years might be a challenge. What "Print the Legend" shows now will look extremely archaic when it's viewed in just another year or two. It's one reason why more documentaries are going to have to be made to keep up with the quick evolution of 3D printing technology. In fact, even a regular TV series would be beneficial to show visual representations of how 3D printing is changing the world every day.
If "Print the Legend" does well on Netflix, no doubt a sequel could be made. Even updates every year or two would provide enough material to see what was changed from the previous documentary. Doing this would help make the previous documentaries major time capsules in how fast 3D printing technology progressed and whether it evolved slower or faster than we all thought.