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Zack SchildhornVice-President and Director of Operations at Lux Capital Zack Schildhorn
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Nick Allen on the One Show
3DPrintUK Founder Nick Allen appeared on the One Show on BBC One in February 2013 to discuss 3D printing and its journey into the mainstream thanks to recent developments in 3D printing technology.
There is no shortage of rhetoric concerning the possibilities 3D printing holds for international industry and now another business leader has added his voice to the chorus.
Zack Schildhorn, Vice-President and Director of Operations at New York's Lux Capital - an influential team of entrepreneurs and investors focused on backing and developing technologies - announced his belief that 3D printing has the power to change everything.
Lux Capital's portfolio features one of the 3D printing industry's best-known names, Shapeways.
Xconomy has quoted the businessman as saying: "The advent of companies like MakerBot, which turns this esoteric prototyping technology into something that people could have on their desktops is inspiring."
MakerBot, of course, has been making headlines over the past week due to a crescendo of rumours surrounding an acquisition initially alleged in the Wall Street Journal. Furthermore, the 3D printing company headed up by former teacher Bre Pettis has just opened its third facility in Brooklyn, New York.
Mr Schildhorn, according to the report, anticipates 3D printers will continue to improve in their ability to build prototypes and postulated as to how consumers will use them in the near and long-term.
"We'll see more printers at lower cost and that are better. [But] will people print all of their goods at home instead of going to a store? I don't think so," he admitted.
The businessman explained that there are myriad ways he believes 3D printing market can serve the consumer, in addition to designers and firms that are looking at new ways to build products, and Shapeways' approach using industrial 3D printers to create objects is complementary to the print-at-home system, which has its limitations.
"Anyone who owns a desktop 3D printer at some point will want to make something in higher quality, using different material, or more volume," he remarked.
"Mastering 3D printing"
The most well known use of 3D printing in a rousing oration is arguably Barack Obama's State of the Union Address made in February of this year.
When stating his intent to make the US a magnet for growth and jobs in the manufacturing sector, the President said: "Last year, we created our first manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio. A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.
"There's no reason this can't happen in other towns. So tonight, I'm announcing the launch of three more of these manufacturing hubs, where businesses will partner with the Departments of Defense and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalisation into global centers of high-tech jobs."
On the back of Obama's speech, there has been a slew of high-profile speeches from industry and political leaders about the importance of investing in 3D printing, including similar statements made here by the British Government, adding to the media hype.
But there are those who are deeply involved in the 3D printing industry who are sceptical of this atmosphere of revolution that has been stirred up as a result.
"It's going to take centuries"
Founder of 3DPrintUK Nick Allen, who appeared on the One Show on the BBC earlier this year to discuss the 3D printing boom, is one such expert who is concerned that the "push-button solution" attitude is the wrong way to portray the technology.
"It's not an inkjet printer," he told TCT Magazine in May.
"I want my information to come across right. Don't get me wrong - I love 3D printing - but we have to know what we are getting and what it's about. Because of the force of 3D printing interest, I wanted to bring people who are interested back down to earth."
Jonathan Rowley of Digits2Widgets shared Mr Allen's opinion that 3D printing is not at a stage where everybody is now a maker and can print their own products rather than going out and buying them.
He noted: "It's a lovely idea that everybody has this creativity but it's going to take centuries for that to happen."
Sylvain Preumont, founder of iMakr - which boasts the largest store dedicated to 3D printing in the world in London's trendy Farringdon - disagrees and has nothing but enthusiasm for this next wave of creativity and at-home production.
"The world is changing … people are discovering that it's not hard to make," he told TCT Magazine.
But while Mr Rowley believes this kind of transformation implied by the media and some business leaders can only change at a glacial pace, Mr Schildhorn's own timeframe for this shift to start picking up pace is much shorter.
"This space has so much potential. In five years we'll look back and say this was just the beginning," he said.