Printing Public Interest (3-D Printing Series, Part 2)


Photo Credit: (3D printed spiral object)

By Yonatan Gordon

Now that we’ve laid some of the groundwork, we’re ready to “print” the second layer to our story…

In Part One we mentioned two stages of “standing.” The first led to Yitro’s advice. People were standing from morning till night waiting to hear Moshe (Moses) advise them. Now with a system of judges, this “standing” would be alleviated. The second “standing” was at the giving of the Torah, when the people were “standing before Mt. Sinai.”

The first thing we realize is that the first occurrence is a transition stage. While it was important that the Jewish people stand to have their questions answered, the end result was that this standing should revert into another type of standing. This second standing is something timeless. This is why we said that we have transitioned from the first stage already in the 3-D printing industry. We already see the practical benefits of this technology, now we are all standing here to be wowed. The primary focus now is about public interest and involvement. No matter what the latest 3-D printable product is, unless there is public interest, it won’t get printed.


What makes a product a game changer? There are many similar words floating around today (e.g. disruptive, next big thing, etc…), but the main distinction is that a game changer changes the rules of the game.

One of the reasons we make a person stand is to make them strong. We also make a person stand to give them a king, which is called “to stand them a king” (להעמיד להם מלך). This is the first mitzvah that we are commanded with upon entering the land of Israel. To stand a king directly relates to the public’s appointment of the king.

What does it mean to wait for the next new 3-D printable product to be announced? We are standing in the hopes that it will change some rule that we found to be limiting. If someone needs a kidney or a heart, instead of waiting in line, simply print one that exactly matches the chemistry of the recipient. When a new king is announced, everything changes.

Another meaning of Hebrew word to “stand” (מעמד) is “states” or “statuses” (מעמדות). A good king then gathers together all the different classes and groups within his nation. At first we might think that everyone is on the same level. That his nation does not divide into different states (מעמדות) or classes. At first you might say that the king needs to remain entirely separate in rank relative to his people, so that he sees everyone the same without distinctions. But this doesn’t mean that he doesn’t need the ranks, the hierarchy, from the highest minister to the lowest citizen. While he relies on these distinctions, he has also trained himself to look past them.


How does this relate back to our discussion? Remember we asked ourselves what makes a product a “game changer”? Seemingly the reason we are standing to begin with now is that uniformity has been brought to the world of manufacturing. Previously, raw materials were judged individually. How easily they each could be applied to construct other things, or how valuable they were, etc…

The easiest way to understand this is with wealth. There are some people who can give gold to the king, others silver or copper, then there are those who have but a small portion of flour. In a subtractive manufacturing world, each “contribution” is judged by itself. This is similar to the distinctions we make among classes of people. There are some that, if given the choice, may desire not to associate with those that only bring flour, etc…

But a king doesn’t make these distinctions. Not because they aren’t there, but because he sees the bigger picture. For him, the main thing is to rule over the kingdom with splendor and majesty. To start stereotyping or classifying the people within his kingdom runs counter to the distance and respect that he affords the crown.


3D printing reminds us as well of this smoothing over of differences. More central to the monetary value of the contribution, is whether these elements will help make a great new product. Like the king who wants to see his nation functioning properly, as long as we can print someone a new heart, kidney, etc… then all the binding agents that went into the mix are equally as vital.

This type of universality sounds nice, but we mentioned that Yitro introduced the aspect of a hierarchy within the Jewish people. If everything was the same, people may be misled to think that the king also is on an equal footing with everyone else. This is why a hierarchy is important. There should be people on the top all the way down to the bottom.

The message then is that while we acknowledge top or bottom, or those ingredients that are more or less central to printing an organ, etc… they are also all equally needed. This is like a king who, even though he is separated, is still revealed among all different types of people. The king recognizes each as central to the makeup of his kingdom, that’s the deeper reason why classes are so important to him.

Likewise, when we seek to introduce a new “game changer” product to the market, the intent is that it should potentially benefit everyone. Everyone rests easier knowing that they could print an organ if need be (although God forbid, no one should need to!). So too, when a king gives a ruling, perhaps it only affects a small minority in his kingdom. But the fact that a ruling was made changes the rules for everyone.

To be continued God willing in Part 3.

Excerpted and adapted from the weekly shiur given 21 Shevat 5773 from Harav Yitzchak Ginsburgh (pages 3-5)


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