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3D Printing Is The End Of Planned Obsolescence… Again.

3D Printing Is The End Of Planned Obsolescence… Again.

3D Printing Is Hot, Hot, Hot…

You can hardly read any tech news these days without seeing a story on 3D Printing. Some of it controversial and some about the companies who are leading the field and acquiring competitors on the way.

3D Printing Search via Bing

Let Me Tell You A Story…

Last week I went on a sofa shopping expedition with my wife in Tel Aviv and while we were trawling around in the heat I noticed a storefront with some interesting tools in the window and a cast iron door.

My wife knows I’m always on the lookout for good tools and was willing to tolerate the brief diversion so we went in and were greeted with the mixed scents of cut metal and machine oil. The store was run by an elderly couple who watched my gleeful face as I saw brackets, nuts, bolts, washers and other sundry pieces and tools. In the back of the store I was amazed to see a large lathe working away under the attentions of an attentive craftsman.

Photo via Bing Image Search; thanks to

3D Priting Predecessor The Lathe

(To my eternal shame I didn’t think to photograph the store or lathe)

For those of you rapidly Googling / Binging the word “lathe” let me explain why this is the Holy Grail for any tool junkies. A lathe is a tool that can cut and form anything and allowed farms, factories and others to make their own replacement parts for anything limited only by: –

  • The size of the lathe
  • Access to the right raw materials (the right kind of steel or wood for the part)
  • Most importantly the skill of the lathe operator

About 20 years ago I was lucky enough to have some limited experience using a lathe and I chatted with these store owners about it. They were kind enough to invite me back anytime.

Frankly it had been a long time since I had thought about learning to use a lathe or that very special combination of smells.

As we were driving home later it occurred to me that as the prevalence of the lathe and skilled operators waned in the late 20th Century consumers became more and more used to planned obsolescence and the idea that if an appliance broke it was often cheaper to replace the appliance than the worn out / broken part.

The environmental impact and cost to the consumer kept increasing. Just go down to any recycling center and look for the rows of appliances.

The Warptest POV

Along come companies like industry leader, Stratasys
and the 3D Printer is effectively the 21st Century inheritor of the lathe.

3D Printing by Stratasys 13D Printing by Statasys 2

Pictures of 3D Printers with thanks to Stratasys

What’s more you know a technology has truly arrived when it’s featured in TVs, The Big Bang Theory:

It seems that we have gone full circle with 3D Printing where the same constraints apply except for that of a skilled operator. With Windows 8.1 including support for 3D Printing the technology has gone mainstream and the next time something breaks you may not need to call a repairman, just print up the replacement part yourself.

Are you ready for an end to planned obsolescence thanks to 3D Printing?