I remember when I got my first CAD station, almost thirty years ago now; an 8 MHz AT clone running Cadvance software, a big Calcomp pen plotter that you had to sleep beside in case a pen needed changing. Designers were just beginning to play with it, the equipment was primitive and hard to use, and nobody quite knew how it was going to fit into our practices.
3D printing feels like it is at the stage that CAD was then; everybody is talking about it, nobody knows what impact it is really going to have. that's why DesignX is such a good idea. It's four days of workshops discussing "the digital technologies revolutionizing our designed world", taking place on the showroom floor at ICFF, the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York on May 18. It starts at entry level, but designed for the trade.
3D printing is not really about sexy plastic dresses or making your own lousy gun, but is only one part of a digital design and manufacturing revolution that is changing the way architects and designers work. Ronnie Parsons of Mode Collective, one of the organizers, explained in Dezeen:
3D printing is the thing that is most visible right now, that's the thing that is most at the surface. But I think that the skill that is really important for designers in the future is not really 3D printing, but actually the processes of thinking through the design to production phase – beginning to think about how things are made and how the new tools and technology out there will change the way you think about design.
So you get to hear from people like Francis Binonti, who worked on Dita Von Teese's dress that launched a thousand posts on 3D printing, but is the kind of thing that makes 3D printing critics roll their eyes;
Or, you can get into the serious meat of serious 3D modelling. I am dipping my toe in Nervous System's Introduction to 3D printing, to learn about "how this disruptive technology is impacting design".
DesignX explains the point in a press release:
Tools and techniques such as 3D Printing, cloud collaboration, and 3D design for production represent the cutting edge of contemporary design practices. While software applications such as photo and video editing have been increasingly adopted into home and widespread professional use in recent years, 3D applications such as modeling and prototyping may still feel beyond the reach of creatives of all experience levels. DesignX will offer attendees the basic-to-intermediate instruction required to bring these techniques into their professional practice and lives.
More at Design X