The Gadget Show
British television series The Gadget Show is now in its tenth year on Channel 5, it is one of the longest running programmes on the terrestrial channel. In their ten years they’ve covered all manner of technological advancements from growth in Wifi to swarm robotics.
In 2004 the show’s stalwart Jason Bradbury did a feature on 3D printing at an industrial level with a Z-Corp printer, calling it “a genuine glimpse of the future”. Fast forward nine years and the Gadget Show were ready to do the world’s first TV group test of affordable 3D printers for the home. With a 3D Systems' Cube, MakerBot’s Replicator 2 and an Ultimaker on hand as the guinea pigs.
The item the three machines were to print was an ancient artefact borrowed from the British Museum. The 2,000-year-old piece was photographed and put into Autodesk’s 123D Catch software, scaled down and turned into a file each of the printers understood. This process was dramatically shortened as anyone who has used 123D Catch can testify.
Each printer was set off on its highest printing resolution and in less than 40 minutes they had a copy from every one for the presenters to judge. It probably won’t surprise many to see the outcomes, every model needs smoothing (they should try this) and the layers are visible on all.
The Gadget Show team score the Cube three out of five, the Replicator 2 three out of five and the overall winner is declared as the Ultimaker with four out of five for its fine layer resolution and high level of detail, though it was scored down for the software difficulty.
It’s good to see a level-headed test like this on mainstream television, that isn’t hyping up the idea of “3D printed fully functional cars” or the alternative panic inducing “printing guns in your own home”. Though we’ve got a sneaking suspicion that there was a few failed prints before the final results…