Hi there. I’m Michael Molitch-Hou, Senior Analyst for 3DPrint.com and SmarTech Analysis. I’ve been writing about 3D printing technology since 2012 and, in that time, I feel as though I’ve gotten a pretty decent lay of the land.
Working my way up to Editor of 3D Printing Industry and, later, Managing Editor of engineering.com, I’m now proud to join the 3DPrint.com team as an analyst to strengthen our effort in bringing serious analysis and journalism to you.
I’ve seen additive manufacturing (AM) from a few different angles: first as a distant admirer, then hobbyist, infatuated lover, and jaded ex. After getting swept up in the early hype of the industry, I soon learned to become skeptical of even the most prominent startups and established manufacturers.
No matter how exciting a new technology is, whether that’s food printing or a process for mass customization, there’s always a layer of marketing occlusion to see through in order to understand what’s really happening beneath the surface. Even with new university studies, the question of who is funding that research and for what ends impacts the way the technology is being developed.
Before taking on this position, I began looking almost exclusively at the actual engineering behind 3D printing technologies, including the possibilities and limitations. Ultimately, I became increasingly interested not just in the engineering boundaries, but the ecological and social limits, as well.
It turns out that 3D printers are made by people and are meant to serve people. Not only that, but the materials from which the printers are made, as well as the feedstocks that they use, actually from a finite ecosystem. 90 percent of the world’s plastics are made from fossil fuel byproducts and even corn-based PLA has its own share of ecological impacts, particularly when we’re discussing the largest supplier of corn, Cargill.
All of this is urgently significant because the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has determined that we have roughly 10 years to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent, or we’ll likely set off runaway climate disruption that will make the Earth uninhabitable. And even the IPCC has been criticized for being too moderate in its assessments, neglecting such features of our ecosystem as thawing permafrost in the Arctic, and refusing to take into consideration changes to our fundamental economic and social structure.
That said, I know that we live in a society in which our ongoing ecological collapse is not at the forefront of everyone’s minds. When it’s not on my mind, I also examine the relationships between 3D printing businesses within the larger market(s), including the AM, manufacturing and global financial markets. It’s impossible to predict the future, but there are strengths and weaknesses within every business and those businesses are further shaped by the intersecting markets that they serve.
So, with all of that in mind, I like to analyze 3D printing from a broad perspective that takes into account the larger context. If that’s your sort of thing, then you might like my 3D printing articles. Outside of AM, I enjoy creative writing, making music, and spending time with my family. You can find my creative work on my blog and portfolio. You can contact me at michael (at) 3DPrint.com.
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