Duane Johnson, an active community member and guest blogger, shares his thoughts on the power of prototyping on his Ultimaker. – Alexander Baloche
The awe of a device that can turn imagination–through 3D design–into reality is something that I immediately felt last year when I saw things being printed in plastic. I still enjoy that awe from time to time when I build things with my Ultimaker, but once I became accustomed to the design cycle, I felt a new kind of enjoyment from design–it’s the joy of being unshackled from the carpenter’s adage, “measure twice, cut once.”
Psychologists describe “flow” as “fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.” I think it’s quite possible that engineers feel this in their work, but I find it hard to imagine that the lengthy iteration time of traditional hardware design allows for flow to happen frequently. With a 3D printer, however, the design process I experience is so organic and responsive that it seems to happen naturally.
I take pleasure in designing half-baked ideas; I make approximate measurements and use unsightly shortcuts; and, somehow I can still create a product that works well and looks pretty good in the end. In the process, I experience flow, because I needn’t be confronted with every consideration and contingency at once.
To me, 3D printing is a perfect balance between art and engineering–true design waiting to be unleashed. My desk is littered with pairs of plastic parts that were ideas not quite finished–but they mark the happy trail of measure once, print twice.