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Cheap 3D Fab Could Start an Innovation Renaissance 258

blackbearnh writes "An article over on O'Reilly Radar makes the argument that, just as inexpensive or free software development environments have led to a cornucopia of amazing Web and mobile applications, the plummeting cost of 3D fabrication equipment could enable myriad new physical inventions. The article was prompted by a new Kickstarter project, which if funded will attempt to produce a DIY CNC milling system for under $400. Quoting: 'We're already seeing the cool things that people have started doing with 3D fab at the higher-entry-level cost. Many of them are ending up on Kickstarter themselves, such as an iPhone 4 camera mount that was first prototyped using a 3D printer. Now I'm dying to see what we'll get when anyone can create the ideas stuck in their heads.'"
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Cheap 3D Fab Could Start an Innovation Renaissance

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  • That, or... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DWMorse ( 1816016 ) on Friday December 10, 2010 @02:45PM (#34516264) Homepage

    "What? They want $50 for that part?? Screw that, I can make it myself for $10."

    And thus, a new legal conglomeration will be formed, akin to the RIAA and MPAA, but this time to sue people for owning fabrication gear.

  • Re:That, or... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KublaiKhan ( 522918 ) on Friday December 10, 2010 @03:05PM (#34516530) Homepage Journal
    The path may well be counted as IP and, hence, licensable. CNC programmers (I used to work at an aerospace parts manufacturer, hence why I know this tidbit) can create the same part in many different ways, depending on how fast or how efficient they want the process to be.

    So while a model file showing all the dimensions of a part may be freely tradeable, the machine path required to build that part in the least time or least material may well be copyrightable under current laws.

    O'course, it could always be counted as a trade secret, but that's another kettle of beans altogether.
  • Re:That, or... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 10, 2010 @04:57PM (#34518018)

    I own a makerbot, roughly the same machine as the reprap...

    I agree, you could not make without any post processing injection nozzles on the reprap. These are actually spray nozzles he's asking for, but same idea.

    You could absolutely get the mechanical strength you wanted, ABS is very strong stuff and stands up well to the elements when dyed or painted (UV can break it down over time)

    The issue would be the nozzle itself... any spray or injection nozzle wants to promote laminar flow until the working fluid leaves the nozzle. Reprap prints have small to microscopic blobs and threads sticking out of their surface - caused by everything from a dirty nozzle to bubbles in your feed plastic.

    Easily solved though. Print a nozzle body and drill out the actual channel. My dremel drill press sits right next to my makerbot for a reason. If you're having a hard time getting it square and true, print out a jig to hold the nozzle true while you drill it as well.

    Back to the OP's point - none of that is protected by IP law. If I want to, based on a physical examination of a part, create a replica of that part, there's nothing stopping me. I might or might not be allowed to sell it, but until commercial gain comes into play I am definitely legally in the clear...

"More software projects have gone awry for lack of calendar time than for all other causes combined." -- Fred Brooks, Jr., _The Mythical Man Month_