Via TEDxYouth YouTube channel
Joris Peels at TEDx 2011Joris Peels speaking at TEDx 2011 in Brussels
When Joris Peels was confirmed to speak at this September's TCT Show + Personalize at the Birmingham NEC, we knew attendees would be in for half an hour of no-holds-barred analysis - with the possibility of heated debates at question time.
Amsterdam-based Peels does not pull his punches and his strong opinions are supported by his experience, which features a roll call of some of the most recognisable names in the industry - namely Shapeways and Materlialise, while he currently works as Voxelfab's freelance consultant for the 3D printing industry.
Peels' knowledge of the technology, the companies that sell it and the people who use it has given him a clear idea of where the 3D printing industry should be going, but he admits the media and some of the market are still on the wrong track. It is this point he wants to make clear at the TCT Show in his presentation Broken Dreams on the Desktop.
"There's a lot of hype on the desktop," he explained. "No desktop 3D printer has a reliability or uptime nearing that of the worst toaster you can buy in all of China."
Peels is, of course, referring to the avalanche of recent desktop 3D printer releases - some of which promise to revolutionise the home by making it possible to print almost anything. Peels argues that, despite the fact the number of people who own such machines are still in the minority, this is the wrong marketing for the technology.
He said of the media and advertisements for such 3D printers that "they overstate capabilities of the machines and underplay problematic things such as build quality and reliability".
"They regularly say 'now you can make anything using this desktop machine'. In the industry we know this is far from being true, but consumers are being sold a dream that cannot be backed up by technology right now," he remarked.
Peels added his concern that unless the "hype honeymoon" is curbed, the industry runs the risk of having the mainstream media turn on it, suggesting the technology "isn't all it's cracked up to be".
In addition to sorting out how 3D printing is conveyed in the media, Peels is interested in tidying up the technology in a more practical way - sorting out the waste produced by machines when builds do not work or produce novelty items that are destined for the bin before long.
"A lot of things made with 3D printing are crap, this is why we need filament recyclers and extruders - so we can fail faster for free and without impacting the world negatively. This will improve overall product design," he stated.
More and more 3D printing companies seem keen for the best of 3D printing to be showcased, rather than demonstrating the technology as a push-button revolution and it is likely Peels will have a lot to talk about with his cohorts this September.
Indeed, it is this exchange of ideas that the expert looks forward to when he attends events such as the TCT Show.
"It's a small community and we all like to catch up and exchange knowledge. This makes the entire community more dynamic and knowledgeable.
"It's nice to see machines up close that you haven't seen before. I also love seeing and comparing parts in order to get a better understanding of who can do what and who is actually improving," he stated, adding that the fact there is usually free beer to be had is a bonus.
"[What I want to do is] maybe point out some problems with the dreams of the desktop and point to some possible things we could do to increase adoption of 3D printing," Peels remarked.
Indeed, despite the professional's wishes to ground 3D printing in terms of how it is being presented by the media, Peels has ambitions of his own as to the industry's outlook.
"It's great having machines but they are worthless without [users] having the ability to make exactly what they want," he remarked.
"We need millions of people to be able to design, iterate, modify, customise, individualise and create. This is what will make the machines relevant to humankind."
But even though Peels acknowledges there are holes in the desktop 3D printing vision upheld by some of the large printer manufacturers, he does have a soft spot for some machines.
His work with Envisiontec Bioplotter, he stated, has stoked his desire for one of their machines so he can make circuits and batteries at home, while he noted his "ideal home machine" could also be a Robot Factory One, Formiga, Projet or Connex.
Peels has been very impressed with some of the "unsung" 3D printing projects he has been involved in or heard about lately.
"I was amazed to learn the University of Twente has used additive manufacturing to come up with a concept that would potentially reduce by ninefold the number of laboratory animals used in animal testing. That really made me happy," he said.
He added that Phonak's use of the technology in the production of hearing aids was also worth shouting about.
"Millions of individualised hearing aids are made each year and it's one of the largest applications of additive manufacturing in a consumer-facing product - and the largest example of a true mass customisation product. Amazing stuff but no one knows about it."
Peels noted that he is also excited about the book he is writing that hopes to set out the concepts, applications and limitations of 3D printing for readers who want to learn about the technology.
"I'm at the 100-pages-of-brain-dump stage and now have to organise," he stated.
Whenever the book is published, it is sure to contain plenty of Joris Peels' own brand of analysis and that is precisely why he will make a fantastic TCT Show + Personalize speaker. Registration is now open for those wishing to attend the two-day event, which runs from September 25th-26th.