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Will 3D printing kill hobby shops!

This article was originally published in RC Driver’s September 2015 issue.
Just a few years ago, I never would have thought it would be possible for someone to have something in their own home that could actually print out an item and do it affordably. I only thought big corporations with endless cash flow could purchase such a machine. But now I have a 3D printer on my desk at work and one at home in my workshop. I’ve been tinkering around learning how they operate, how to use drawing programs to design great projects I’d like to print and learning all the little nuances to creating a successful print.

For the most part the two printers I’m learning are plug-in-and-play. I’ve successfully printed a stand for my phone, a crockpot handle and an army of Minions for my kids. But I can’t tell you how much time I spent just getting those right. So as of yet, they aren’t foolproof, but things are getting easier and it’s because of this that some people are wondering if the advancing technology will hurt our industry.

In the future will RC racers and enthusiasts be printing cars, upgrades or plane old replacement parts? Possibly. Will it take over as the only source to get parts? I highly doubt it. The majority of the drivers in this hobby have always been enthusiasts and not racers. Racers may possibly heavily lean toward 3D printing parts and those heavily into the hobby side of the sport will, but I think the majority of the fun seekers, just want to be able to grab and go. Think about it, the majority of the vehicle offerings are ready-to-run because people just want to grab and go. If we told someone you have to sit down and spend the next few days to print your vehicle, it’s not going to happen. If you told someone you need to get X printer and download Y program and use Z material and take a few hours to set it all up in order to hopefully get a good replacement part, they’ll be moving on to picking up a new hobby.

3D printing is sure to become a part of our hobby but I doubt it will take over. We’ve posted a few photos of us printing things online and received a few comments that we are promoting 3D which will kill hobby shops. That is not what we are doing, we’ve always supported hobby shops. Look in just about any issue and there is a reference to go to your local shop. What we are doing with 3D is just showing those who are heavily vested in enjoying the hobby another way to enjoy an extension of modeling along with new technology.

Have you been playing with a 3D printer to expand your modeling ability? We’d love to see and possibly feature your printed creation. Send us photos at editors@rcdriver.com and we may contact you to feature your 3D creation.

One comment

  1. 3d printing will in its current form never pose a threat to hobby shops. Parts take long times to produce, are made from weaker materials typically, and are not easily found as 3d models, meaning original parts need to be intact for modelling purposes. As someone who makes wings for the Xray X1 series, I am looking forward to seeing how my parts perform this winter season, but the only reason I made them in the first place was because the originals were on backorder.

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