Interview with AI Chatbot ChatGPT on the 3D Printing Market

Published on January 18, 2023 by Claire S.

Our interview today is truly unique: we have interviewed artificial intelligence (AI)! We wanted to test the now well-known ChatGPT and thought we would interview it as we would a 3D printing expert. ChatGPT (short for Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is a chatbot system developed by OpenAI, based on an artificial intelligence model using machine learning technology. When we asked it to introduce itself, it told us, “I’m here to help you solve your problems. I will be glad to help you in any way I can.” In particular, ChatGPT can not only answer questions on a wide variety of topics, but also interpret, compose text, and generate images based on input. But what does ChatGPT know about 3D printing? To find out, we asked the questions we usually ask industry professionals in our weekly interviews. In our questions, we refer to the year 2021, because the bot only has access to information up to this year. What did it say? Will it be reliable? Read on to find out!

3DN: Hello, ChatGPT! Do You Know 3Dnatives?

“Yes, 3Dnatives is an online platform that offers information, news and guides on everything related to 3D printing innovation and technologies. 3Dnatives offers a wide range of content on 3D printers, filaments, materials, software, innovations, designs, projects, and more. The platform is based on an editorial model that provides detailed information on everything related to 3D printing. It is aimed at professionals and key players in the industry. It exists in eight languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.”

  • Close, but not quite! 3Dnatives exists today in 5 languages: English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian. For the other languages, time will tell! This first response shows that, while well structured, ChatGPT responses need to be verified to be sure of their accuracy.

3DN: What Were the Main Applications of 3D Printing in 2021?

“3D printing was used in a wide range of applications in 2021. First, prototype and model production: 3D printing has been used to rapidly create product prototypes and architectural models, allowing engineers and designers to test and improve their designs before mass production. Second, for custom manufacturing: 3D printing enables the production of custom objects on demand, without the need to create molds or expensive tooling. Third, for spare parts manufacturing: 3D printing can be used to produce spare parts for machinery and equipment, allowing companies to keep equipment running without having to wait for spare parts to be delivered. Fourth, Medicine: 3D printing has been used to create prosthetics, implants, molds for the production of custom orthodontic appliances, and anatomical models for medical training. Finally, architecture: 3D printing has been used to create models of buildings and structures, enabling architects to visualize and test their designs before construction.”

  • Here again the answer seems to us to be correct, but very limited. In our report on 3D printing trends in 2021, we highlighted the growth of 3D printing in the construction sector; though we agree that medical is one of the most important application areas for 3D printing, especially if we consider dental as part of it. Yet, to classify 3D printing as a technology used primarily for prototypes, spare parts and customization demonstrates a somewhat old or simply superficial “view” of what additive manufacturing is today: a technology increasingly used in the production of end-use parts and in highly specialized and innovative industries. Just think of the applications of 3D printing in the aerospace industry (for building parts for rockets, engines, satellites, etc.) or in the automotive industry (for making optimized end-use parts with complex geometries for cars, motorcycles, and cutting-edge vehicles).
stampa 3D dentale

3D printing applications in the dental sector are numerous and increasingly in demand. (Photo credit: Carbon)

3DN: What Are the Cheapest 3D Printers on the Market?

“There are several inexpensive 3D printers available on the market, some of which are: Ender-3 by Creality: this 3D printer is very popular among beginners and is available for less than $200; Anet A8, a 3D printer that is also very popular among beginners and is available for less than $150; Monoprice Select Mini V2, a compact and affordable 3D printer sold for less than $200; FlashForge Finder, a 3D printer that is easy to use and sells for less than $300; and the Prusa i3 3D printer, one of the most affordable of the popular Prusa Research brand, selling for less than $500.”

ChatGPT also adds, “Keep in mind that these inexpensive 3D printers may have lower print quality than more expensive 3D printers, and they may be more difficult to set up and use. In addition, there are also 3D printer self-build kits available for less than $150”.

  • Here artificial intelligence is able to identify some affordable 3D printer models from well-known manufacturers now on the market. At first glance, the answer is reliable, but again it can be called into question: there are many machines available for less than 500 euros, so why list the Prusa i3 as opposed to any other? What criteria does AI consider here and what geographic market is it based on? However, we appreciate the comment about DIY machines and the variable print quality achieved with inexpensive printers.
Kit Original Prusa i3 MK3S+, one of the machines mentioned by ChatGPT

The price of the Original Prusa i3 MK3S+ Kit ranges from $500 to $800. (Credits: Prusa3D)

3DN: Which Are The Best-Known 3D Printing Companies?

“1. Stratasys: is one of the world’s leading 3D printing companies, with a wide range of industrial and desktop 3D printers.
2. Formlabs: is a professional 3D printing company offering both 3D printers and high-quality materials.
3. Ultimaker: is a desktop 3D printing company that offers high-quality 3D printers at affordable prices.
4. MakerBot: is one of the leading 3D printing companies, offering high-quality desktop 3D printers and a wide range of printing materials.
5. 3D Systems: is a 3D printing company with a wide range of products, including industrial 3D printers, desktops, and a wide range of printing materials.”

  • With access to information up to 2021, ChatGPT does not know that one of the most important mergers of the year and the market occurred in 2022, that between Ultimaker and Makerbot. As of May 2022, the two companies became one company: UltiMaker. Again, it is difficult to understand what parameters were taken into account to make this list: total sales? The number of 3D printers sold? The company’s development internationally? A plausible hypothesis is that the data the AI takes into account in its answers mostly concern the U.S. market.

3DN: Which Additive Manufacturing Technology Is Best Suited for Creating Aerospace Rockets?

“The additive manufacturing technology most suitable for creating aerospace rockets is Fusion Deposition Modeling (FDM). This 3D printing technology uses heated and melted plastic or nylon filaments to rapidly create complex three-dimensional shapes. FDM is ideal for prototypes and applications where strength and durability are a priority. In addition, FDM technology allows larger parts to be printed than many other 3D printing technologies, which is critical when working with aerospace parts.”

  • We wanted to challenge the AI a bit by asking a more specific question. Here actually ChatGPT’s answer is not correct. FDM technology can be used in aerospace for example to create prototypes, test designs, but for final parts, metal 3D printing is more suitable, with technologies such as DMLS widely used in the industry.
  • Here we see how important it is to be precise in the questions asked of the AI. To get a more correct answer, we probably should have asked, “What is the best technology to create final parts for space rockets?” Also, considering the way the AI answers our questions, it is likely that it actually “knows” or “recognizes” FDM better than other types of 3D printing technologies due to it being the most common technology, which reflects a rather rudimentary knowledge of Additive Manufacturing.
NASA's space capsule Orion

NASA’s space capsule, Orion, was powered by rocket engines with 3D printed parts (photo credits: NASA)

3DN: What Do You Think Is the Future of 3D Printing? What Will Be the Next Innovations in the Field?

“The future of 3D printing is extremely promising. The 3D printing industry is expected to grow at a very fast pace in the coming years. It is expected to be used in the automotive industry, aerospace, medical facilities, industrial facilities, architecture, fashion, engineering, prototype production, consumer goods production, spare parts production, etc. 3D printing will reduce production costs, increase production efficiency, and help create innovative prototypes. In addition, 3D printing will enable manufacturers to produce more complex parts that would otherwise be difficult to obtain. 

Upcoming innovations in 3D printing will include the printing of more advanced materials, such as metals and polymers, the use of advanced post-processing techniques to improve the quality of the finished product, and the ability to print large objects, such as vehicles or parts of buildings. In addition, innovations in 3D printing technology will make it possible to print faster and with greater precision, so that more accurate and efficient products can be created.”

  • While generic, this answer is our favorite of those ChatGPT has provided. First, the prediction of the rapid growth of the market fits with what everyone in the industry expects and is likely to happen. Also, the main sectors and applications of the technology are mentioned here. What also strikes us is the reference to post-processing, a topic we have covered many times: it is considered by industry professionals to be one of the areas of improvement and investment for the immediate future. So it seems to us very likely that steps will be taken in this regard, from the point of view of quality and process automation. The same applies to large-format 3D printing, which is developing rapidly and is likely to hold many surprises for us in the coming years. However, if we are to consider the major trends of 2022, ChatGPT did not, for example, “predict” the increasing use of technologies such as Binder Jetting or the use of more sustainable 3D printing materials and processes.
post-processing after 3D printing, one of the topics mentioned by ChatGPT

Optimizing the post-processing stage will be one of the trends in the coming years. (Credits: Protolabs)

3DN: Any Last Words for Our Readers?

“We recommend that our readers experiment with 3D printing, explore new technologies and learn as much as they can. 3D printing can be fun, practical and extremely rewarding, so embrace it and enjoy the journey!”

  • With this cheerful response, we finish our interview. All in all, ChatGPT is an extraordinary tool that can have many functions and if studied can help in finding information, simplifying repetitive actions, and examining data. What is more amazing than anything else is its ability to generate humanesque language, an achievement that other AI have so far been unable to achieve. However, we have seen that it is not infallible and that often the information given does not correspond to the truth. It is therefore necessary to always verify both the sources of the information ChatGPT offers and the veracity of these sources, and also to take into account the fact that the latest news is not accessible to the AI (which has access to information that is a year old). For the time being then, human input is essential and necessary.
  • Especially on the subject of 3D printing, it seems that ChatGPT still has a lot to learn. Its answers were not what an expert in the field would have given, but on the contrary revealed a superficial knowledge of the subject that, if we wanted to “humanize” AI, seems to reflect that of an American person who is familiar with 3D technologies but does not work within the field. Still, we are curious to find out what its future developments and uses will be!

If you want to test ChatGPT yourself, you can do so HERE. What do you think of ChatGPT? Let us know in a comment below or on our LinkedinFacebook, and Twitter pages! Don’t forget to sign up for our free weekly Newsletter here, the latest 3D printing news straight to your inbox! You can also find all our videos on our YouTube channel.

*Cover photo credits: OpenAI

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