(I am sorry for the delay, I just got back my macbook fixed)
As both Valeria and professor Riva pointed out in their blogs, the widespread diffusion of affordable 3D printer has the potential to influence the standardized top-to-bottom model of production (perhaps, as Eco says, toward a complete ‘triumph of consumer ideology”). I do think that 3D printing can deeply reshape the relationship between consumer and producer, where the consumer becomes the ‘ total-maker’ or at the least the creative mind that leads the concrete production of the objects. There are many collaborative production platforms (3DHubs is one of them) based on this idea. Of course, such a production model can become an effective alternative to the established one only if 3D printing technology will greatly improve in the near future; Neely and Langer seem to be very confident about that.
Along with all the beneficial effects associated with 3D printing (in terms of research, teaching and learning), what I find most fascinated is the dialectic relationship between different media that the “flip-flop” process implies; or, more precisely, the dialectic relationship between the creative thinking peculiar to each media. Is this just the synergy of two creative approaches or maybe an entire new one, more complete and better suited for the ‘concretely virtual’ world in which we live?
Using Sloan’s recipe as a guide…
1. Carve a statue out of stone. PHYSICAL
2. Digitize your statue with a 3D scanner. DIGITAL
3. Make some edits. Shrink it down. Add wings. STILL DIGITAL
4. Print the edited sculpture in plastic with a 3D printer. PHYSICAL AGAIN
… I would put the emphasis on the blank space between 3 and 4 (or 1 and 2) rather than on one of the four steps.