3D printers are slow, but they can make virtually anything. Humans are slow, and most of them can make virtually anything as well. What does this mean? SHOWDOWN.

3D Printer vs Man

It’s a battle of skill, agility and wit. Specifically, a showdown between designer Dominic Wilcox and a Makerbot Replicator. The story goes something like this. It began with a tweet by Wilcox that he could beat a 3D Printer if given the chance. The curator at Milan Design Week heard his call, and brought him downtown. Their challenge? To make a copy of Milan’s Duomo Cathedral.

It takes about 1.5 hours for a Makerbot to build a print – a reasonable timeframe for a speedy sculptor as well. The showdown is covered in the video – the theatrics are awesome (no stunt doubles were used.) Wilcox managed to get his model done in time – I didn’t think he had a chance. It’s hard to tell if the 3D print was better or not – Wilcox’s sculpture seemed to have the same relative ‘resolution’. Nevertheless, he was declared the winner. Yay! Humans Win!

Not everyone was cheering for us meatsticks though. Walter Frick at Bostinno.com called out the crowd for cheering (maybe half-jokingly?)

Perhaps most interesting of all was the fact that the crowd so actively cheered for Wilcox. That’s not surprising, but in a sense they’re rooting against progress. If a machine can accomplish that task more efficiently, that means higher productivity and therefore greater prosperity. Rooting against that is kind of odd when you think about it. But we remain committed to the “human touch” nonetheless.

I don’t really see the problem. You design something in CAD or you sculpt it by hand – you’re still making something. The human touch, regardless of the medium, is all that matters.

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