I have an opinion about personal 3D printing.

I am not going to stop using it, that is a given. Years of producing 3D printed items, has established 3D printing is not a replacement for my traditional creative methods. Creative juices do not flow only in plastic pipes.

I have produced a lot of practical molded (printed) plastic Items. I also found a lot of unsatisfactory applications for the material.

I coined a term I call “Plastic Junque.”  Plastic Junque is just fun plastic stuff to print. I haven not stopped printing Junque. I just admit to myself that producing such stuff… is what it is. It is printed just because IT CAN BE PRINTED.

I don’t NEED 50 grumpy (printed plastic Junque) owls on my shelves, but I have them. Color samples I call them. A visual reminder of the color, that happens to be presented in the form of a grumpy owl.

It’s 100% totally cool to design something in 3D CAD and then hold that plastic item in my hand a few hours later. It’s Junque when I have no real (practical) use for creating it.

A hand carved one-piece wooden ball in a cage and a 3D printed version are both Junque. But there is a big difference in effort and skill to produce them.

As a kid, I assembled a lot of plastic models. As an adult I can now design and make similar plastic parts, usually already assembled. The hobby 3D printer is a great plastic model maker. Especially since the output of my printers is plastic.

To me, all plastic models are a form of Junque. They just set around and are looked at. Maybe “played” with and examined as in imagining the “real” thing. An object becomes a visual reminder. All my childhood plastic models became “Objects de Junque” and were thrown away. But a lifetime of learning to “make” and understand what those models represented, remain with me.

Dimensional art is a part of human culture. A statue is a “model” of someone or something. It is a dimensional picture. For that, it has value.

If a cast bronze figurine and an exact copy printed in plastic are offered as a choice, the one cast in bronze will most certainly be picked as the most valuable. It’s a type of material “caste system” (pun intended) of value judgement, with plastic being a lower class of material. (I choose to call Junque.)

But maybe all I want is the (low value) plastic replica. I can understand. I don’t NEED the bronze version. (Or a REAL skull of a dinosaur…)

The desktop 3D printer is accepted as an excellent proof of concept maker, that outputs those concepts in fused or resin plastic. If plastic is the finished material of choice with suitable characteristics, the 3D print is the final product. In this use, it is not a model. It is the product.

Most hobbyist like me, will never own commercial 3D manufacturing systems using exotic metallic materials. I can use a desktop printed plastic part as the prototype model for more expensive manufacturing. I do that with some of my silver jewelry creations.

Bottom line. Plastic 3D printing is a great addition to my creative skills. It is not necessarily a better system than other methods. There is an enjoyment, just in the making.