The Internet has given us access to resources unparalleled in the history of humankind. The volume of exchange for ideas, pictures, written text and now 3D models have been building to a climatic boom in creativity. To an extent, that depends on how you define ‘Creativity’. I see creativity as the synthesis of two previously unrelated concepts, crafting something of value with a greater sum than its parts. The is the beginning of our three part exploration about how that applies to 3D software, making and more specifically, 3D printing.

The remix culture

If you take a look at the history of the Internet, the growth of the remix culture has followed the content of what is exchanged. Image manipulation was sparked by increases of bandwidth that allowed pictures to be modified and exchanged. As bandwidth increased further, it became feasible to create and share mashups of audio and video via sites like YouTube. Now, Thingiverse and GrabCAD are beginning to spark the remixing of objects. People of all creeds, colours and talent are taking objects new and old and remixing them in ways previously not thought of. As non-technical users begin to use 3D software and gain access to 3D printers, more will be able to participate.

A special example has been the evolution of a highly-praised and printed item, Heart Gears by Thingiverse user Emmett. Originally developed “for a Nerdy Valentine’s Day”, Emmett’s Heart Gears have been reprinted hundreds of times by many users across the Thingiverse (including me). Not only that, people have put out different variations like the ‘Sun Gear’ and ‘Colbert Gear’ and other complimentary pieces. The Heart Gears themselves were not an original idea, but an improvement upon a less well-known design by GregFrost called Broken Heart. Below is a brilliant ‘Family Tree’ of the Gear Heart created by Sean Michael Ragan at Make Magazine.

So, the CAD designer and engineer. Where do we place them? Music and video use to be difficult mediums to edit, remix and exchange – fiddling with reel to reel tapes and actually having to buy a Record/tape/CD at a record store or see a film at the cinema. Now it’s easy. And with that, creating, editing, remixing and exchanging CAD files is becoming easy as well. Are people going to respond? How will this work for the average designer or engineer? Stayed tuned for Part II.