In my last entry I touched upon how the opportunity to improve one’s social reputation would encourage some people to learn 3D modeling; especially as new, task-specific interfaces such as Spore‘s “Creature Creator” make traditionally difficult applications easier for novices. Social reputation – especially within the framework of the videogame community or popular online social networking sites – is one non-monetary incentive for learning 3D CAD. Personal empowerment – particularly within one’s “real” world community – is another.
The Future of CAD is Personal Empowerment
While everyone knows the Internet places a wealth of information at web-surfing fingertips, information in and of itself doesn’t mean much to a significant number of people. More often than not the average person surfing for information is just looking for an answer to a straightforward question; a solution to an immediate problem. Their endgame isn’t simply knowledge, but knowledge applied toward a practical application. And for most people – those effectively removed from the nitty-gritty of design and manufacturing activities – non-game 3D applications are often of little interest and no practical use. But just as the “Apple II offered the novel notion that technology could empower the individual“, increasingly accessible fabbing technology offers average people an opportunity to connect with the “real” world (and perhaps the future) in a way now mostly forgotten: through the creation of tangible goods.
While neither computer-aided design nor rapid-prototyping technology are new, the recent arrival of 3D printing services also providing simple, web-based design tools, offers even hesitant, inexperienced users an opportunity to participate; to experience some measure of personal empowerment.
Some individuals utilizing these consumer-friendly services will undoubtedly pursue more sophisticated 3D applications in their attempts to exert greater control over their designs (because after all, control is among the most desirable of things). Thus, not only should we continue to see the rapid-manufacturing market grow, but a portion of the 3D application market right along with it.