The last few weeks have been exciting and busy ones for us here at MAKE. Our Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing arrived last week and is now available in the Maker Shed, and as of today, on newsstands everywhere. Last Thursday, we threw our first International Makers Meetup (with over 120 meetups worldwide and nearly 1,000 attendees), and we hosted a Google+ Hangout On Air during our own Sebastopol meetup.
All of this activity centered on 3D printing and the release of the first-ever guide to the subject. We’ve been watching this area of making and emerging high-technology since the first RepRap machines and have frequently covered it, in the magazine and here online. But this space has exploded in the last year, thanks in no small part to crowdsourcing sites and the ability of people innovating this tech to get their ideas into development and into the marketplace with increasing speed.
With today’s highly anticipated release of the MAKE Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing and our new selection of 3D printers available in the Maker Shed, we’re fully invested in this space. We think 3D printing is going over the top and we want to help lead the charge. We will be continuing to regularly cover this tech and its maker community, with reviews of new printers here on the site, coverage in the magazine, books, and likely, future print guides.
Our “Ultimate Guide” is really just the beginning of the conversation, us putting a stake in the ground. To produce it, we got together a dozen makers, both established luminaries in the field and tech enthusiasts with some significant connection to 3DP. They formed a kind of high-powered users group. We set up 15 of the top printers of the moment, grouped the testers into teams of two, and let them have at it over a very long, action-packed weekend. We first established a rubric, a testing protocol, that we were all happy with and then began to put the printers through a series of rigorous tests, trying to keep everything as equal and fair as possible. After the tests, and group conversations around our findings, each test team wrote up a review, including test results, tech specs, pro tips we collected from super-users of each machine, and finally, we made determinations of our standouts amongst the test group.
Even with our attempts at rigor and fairness, these are ultimately subjective reviews, relative to the opinions, tastes, and experience levels of the testers. We knew from the start there was going to be debate and disagreement over our decisions and we welcome this. To that end, we have a 3D Printing landing page here on the site, and each printer has a review preview and each of these pages includes a comments area where you can share your experiences with the machine, your opinions on which machines you like and why, and where you think our test team got it wrong. We hope you’ll join in the discussion. We’d especially like to hear from those who buy machines based on our recommendations and what your experiences are of setting up and using your new printer. We’d also love to see the things that you design and print out.
This is an exciting new chapter in the 3D printer story. We wrote the first piece of it. We hope you’ll help us flesh out the rest of the story.