Re: [rp-ml] Fab@Home

From: steve (
Date: Wed Jan 17 2007 - 07:15:31 EET

Ian Gibson wrote:

> I don't really think dot matrix printers were extensively used in the
> home by anyone other than the hobbyist/enthusiast. In the UK, I think it
> was Canon with their bubblejet printers that really exploded the market,
> and their output was much better than the average book printing because
> of the ability to integrate graphics with text. Dot matrix did perhaps
> contribute in terms of demonstrating there was a potential market (see
> my previous rp-ml comment about the power of toys). However, the
> technology no longer exists (see my previous comment about waiting for
> the big boys), need I say more?

Excuse me?!? Take a look at any cash register or ATM...there are
vastly more dot matrix printers in the world than inkjets or laser

Epson still make a huge range of dot-matrix printers.

It's a bit hard to say whether dot matrix printers were used in the
home beyond just by enthusiasts because it's really hard to say
at what time home computers themselves passed into the mainstream.

The first Mac had a dot matrix printer for example - the printer
that Clive Sinclair sold with the ZX81 and Spectrum was a dot-matrix
unit. I guess you'd have to say that the Mac and the Spectrum were
good examples of computers that non-enthusiasts used.

But none the less the point is that big industrial-sized
drum and chain printers were out there long before dot-matrix
printers - and they cost a small fortune. Even when dot-matrix
devices appeared and were cheap enough for anyone to own one,
they were too slow and crappy for most 'serious' uses...but
gradually, the 'home' printers got to the point where many
offices use them - because they are cheap. But there are still
big commercial printers - such as used by magazines and
other high quality print applications.

I think that's a fair analogy for what's going to happen
with 3D printing. We're still at the "drum/chain printer"
stage with machines costing a small fortune. We've just
maybe seen the first ever "dot matrix printer" in the
form of Fab@Home - and once we hit whatever the equivelent
of the Epson LQ series is, we'll start to think about seeing
them in the home, owned by non-enthusiasts.

I'd guess it took about 14 years (1970 - when the first
"affordable" Centronix dot matrix printer appeared until
1984 or so when dot matrix printers were everywhere and
the Epson FX-80 was the 'standard' home printer)
which time bar/chain printers were pretty much dead.
The first sub-$1000 inkjet printer came out in 1988,
the first affordable colour inkjet was around in 1991.

So - if history repeats itself, we've got maybe 10 to 15
years until these things are everywhere - but somewhat
limited in scope - maybe 20 years until they are actually
what we really wanted them to be.

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