3D printers and the "thingy" as a first class citizen

With the coming of 3D printing technology, "the thingy" has become the best way to describe that which still does not exist, may never exist, and (to make matters even more vague) if it is that it ever comes to existence, noone knows exactly how it will look like. All that is known of it is some basic functional characteristics.

The point of this article is to remark that there is no lack of a better word. The thingy is here to stay.

The context

For the past couple of months, and for different reasons, I've been in close contact with two teams in charge of building, developing and programming 3D-printers. Hackers, each and every one of them. Of the many aspects that form the oh so well known hacker profile, there is one that is fundamental to the point of this article: hackers will promply, and without hesitation, fix the shortcomings of language. Just take a look at the jargon file and its history.

In the context of 3D printing, a technology we'll be hearing about incresingly in the coming years, the language fails to confotably name that which is yet to be, of unknown shape. We do know that it, if it ever is, won't exheed some known dimensions: your average DIY 3D printer has a very limited printing volume (say, 30x30x30 cm). Other than that, all we know is that it will solve this or that problem, fullfill this or that role.

The thingy

The people involved in the creation of it don't have patience for lengthy, elaborate descriptions of inexistent objects. Hackers with 3D printing power will pull the thingy into existence.

What thingy, I hear you asking? That thingy that can best fit your problem. There is a growing number of people figuring out simple, creative, printable solutions to very varied problems. This solutions are packed as a 3D model that can be fed to a 3D printer. The awesome part is that they share those solutions.

Need a hook for you coat but it has to have that particular angle? A monitor tabletop this high? Need a bottle opener right now, before the before the beer gets cold? Go to the thingiverse.com, get the one that best fits your need, then print it!


Note of the editor: Reading the introductory paragraph you may be wondering whether the author is aware of how obvious his intention of ripping off Douglas Adams' narrative style are. Should that be your case, dear reader, to you I say: yes.

Por Elvio Rogelio Toccalino

Professional programmer, enthusiast hacker, mad entrepreneur