I hate articles about 3D printing.
Usually. Of course, there are always exceptions (Some FOSSCAD designs got decent articles), but for the most part, nothing 3D printing related makes me angrier (No, not even re-assembling the Solidoodle hotend stock bracket) than the articles. Journalists use sensational headlines to draw readers in and keep them just to make cash while disregarding facts. In this writeup, I'll be bringing up many of the myths journalists like to either bring up or hint at. Every time I talk to someone about 3D printing I have to first kill off all their previous knowledge because most of it is wrong thanks to these articles.
#1: 3D Printers are only $500, and they can print organs!
This one is never asserted by journalists directly, but what they tend to do is talk about how cheap 3D printers are and then jump right into the Bioprinters, or SLS (Select Laser Sintering) printers. They talk about printing kidneys and skin and titanium in context with a cheap Cube or Solidoodle. I'll clear this up right now, Bioprinters are not available on the market (Although I would love to have one) and SLS printers that do metal costs THOUSANDS if not MILLIONS of dollars. The home 3D printers are almost always FDM, which means that they melt and layer plastic through a hotend. Exceptions are SLA resin based printers, but these also will not work in metal or cells. The writers do not specifically SAY that kidneys can be made on home 3d printers, but it is almost implied and spreads WAY too much misinformation.
#2: 3D Printers in every home by 20XX!
This one annoys me because they always base it off some stupid study where they ask people if they would be willing to buy a 3D printer (a recent statistic got 33%). I will debunk that right now, because the cheap 3D printers are a PAIN to use. It's a good pain, but don't be disillusioned into thinking that you can open a box and start printing perfectly forever. That is NOT how it works. Seeing how good most people are with computers, and using my own experience with a budget printer, I do not think for a second that any more than 10% of the population is willing to put the time into using and maintaining a 3D printer, unless they do it in a group. Cheap printers break, require fine tuning constantly, and are not for the faint of heart. I truly believe that many of the people who say they would consider buying a 3D printer would quickly consider taking it back unless they got a fancy $20K Stratasys. Oh, and also, these studies have NO CLUE into when consumers will actually pick up this stuff, so please don't throw another study at me. I think they need to make printers FAR more user friendly before they will be picked up in mass.
#3: The 3D printer gun doesn't work/doesn't show up on metal detectors!!!
The Liberator (the first tested 3D printed gun but certainly not the only) works. However, this requires good reading skills, which many governments apparently lack. Every Liberator test that followed the instructions (100% infill, ABS, callibrated printer, acetone barrel, etc.) has worked. And then there's the Australians. I find it hilarious that multiple people have gotten these things working on their own while a government agency in Australia completely fails to follow directions. They used PLA, which is a VERY brittle thermoplastic and will certainly explode, hence the explosion. Anyone who knows anything about printed guns could have told you this before they fired it. Follow instructions, and a tested design will usually work.
The 2nd main gun myth is that you can smuggle this onto a plane. Sorry to break it you, fear mongering journalists, you CAN'T. The ammunition and firing pin would set off a metal detector. AND the X-Ray machine would catch it. AND the full body scanner would see it clear as day. They can see PAPER in your pocket, they can see a plastic weapon. The journalists who "proved" that you can smuggle this thing onto trains or into meetings didn't bring ammunition, so it didn't prove anything. Well, actually no, they proved that you can smuggle a hunk of plastic through a metal detector. Nice, I really needed you to tell me that. If they had brought ammunition they would have been caught and arrested. You can tell I'm irritated.
#4: ...What about dangerous 3D printed knives?
No. Just no. These are impossible without a metal printer. You will never make anything sharp enough to cut anything but paper, and that is with a sharpener. Anything you could make would be no more dangerous than a pencil to stab or cut.
#5: 3D printers can print more 3D printers!
Not really. This is the motivation behind the RepRap project, a group making open source 3D printers. However, they aren't as illusioned as most people because it is obvious that you cannot print every part. RepRaps can print about $50 worth of their parts, usually brackets or holders for rods. However, it is impossible to print electronics, motors, or nozzles out of ABS and PLA. Sorry, blame physics, not me.
#6: The 3D printed gun can't be made anymore, they took it off the Internet!
MORE SOON. ASK QUESTIONS BELOW.