3D Printing in Jeopardy?
Not really, and we agree with Fabbaloo’s conclusion, but as we’ve noted before there will be legal issues and fighting amongst makers, users, designers and printers. That much is a guarantee.
How it affects the industry and the innovation is what remains to be seen.
We’re reading a piece by Brad Moon on InvestorPlace entitled, “3D Printing Party Could End Before It Begins”. The point seems to be that the magic of 3D printing will be destroyed by legal infighting amongst participants.Cited as evidence in the article are:
- Intellectual Venture’s patenting of a method for enforcing DRM on 3D printers
- Takedown notices that have occurred on popular 3D model repository Thingiverse
- The lawsuit against Formlabs filed by 3D Systems
Fabbaloo posits a reasonable counter to each of those pieces of evidence and concludes “[t]he 3D printing party is about to end? Hardly. We’re just getting started.”
We tend to agree, but maybe not so confidently. The more petty legal maneuvers like takedown notices and copyright claims will most likely happen intermittently without interruption until there exists a solid enough body of precedent that will answer those legal questions before they’re asked.
What we’d be more concerned about is the potential for 3D printers to make anything and everything you need in your home, and do it for less money than it costs to purchase those products new. When that happens, and large companies start seeing a blip in their bottom line attributable to 3D printing, you’re going to see far more serious lawsuits begin to come down from manufacturers.
Brad Moon at Investor Place sums this up:
Now, the manufacturing world in general — essentially any company that builds and sells a physical product — is beginning to wake up to the potential of 3D printing to wreak similar havoc on their business.
His example is Napster, which in the long run destroyed the terrestrial music business and stores that sold CD’s, records and the like.
If you think major manufacturers will sit by quietly while people begin to print what they need rather than buy it in a store…think again.
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