3D Printing ho!

A column article, Mission: Professional by: Steven Savage

Recently, I noted at another blog that 3D printing was getting a lot of attention due to activity at CES.  3D printing has actually been available to the ambitious home enthusiast, but it's getting more prominent in people's consciousness all the time.

Of course I also had to write about it here.  I know how creative aspiring and current comics professionals are, and I know what you'll do with new technology - use the hell out of it.
Think what the ability to make full, physical objects in your home means for you, the aspiring or current comics professionals?  Well, OK, keep thinking, but I'm going to list my thoughts here.
Webcomics/Self-Published Makers Have a Merch Machine: Imagine how you can make tchotchkes, figures, and other sellable things for your webcomics.  You can go beyond what you can do with a lot of the traditional methods of easy-to-do merch.
Fanartists Have a New Outlet: You can now do things in 3D, especially if you can work any computer graphics/modeling you do into 3D printing.  Think about that for a moment.  Now imagine what might sell at a convention . . .
You've Got Mockups: If you want to demonstrate merch ideas for your work, at your job, etc. you've got a fast way to do it.  Well, hopefully - it depends on how fast you learn this stuff.  If you want to demonstrate some ideas to your client, partner, or audience you got it . . .
A New Skill: If you're willing to indulge getting a printer and learning how to use it, it may be useful in many places.  Even if it doesn't pay off for your hopeful comics career, it might be useful elsewhere.  Of course a new skill may also show why you should be paid attention to . . .
Legal Nightmares: When people can model then "print" anything, just imagine the legal issues it's going to bring up.  Now keep imagining because there's a lot that can happen or go wrong.  If you work in law for a comics company (or any media company), this will probably come up.
It's a lot from one piece of technology.  But then again if I told people five years ago that mobile phones could impact the comics market it'd sound strange . . .
So what are your thoughts?
- Steven Savage

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