3D Printing Faces Legal Blocks Years Before Mass Consumer Use | Article 3

Leave a comment

Imagine you are at home and one of these situations arises: you break your last coffee mug and need to go to the store for a new one; you love that jacket on Project Runway and want it immediately. In a world with 3D printing you would be able to create these pieces in the comfort of your own home from your personal printer. This world of personal 3D printing was just around the corner, until last week, when a patent application was accepted by the USPTO that essentially blocks the use of 3D printing for reproduction of almost anything.

These 3D printers are “machines that build physical objects bit by bit, layer by layer—similar to how inkjet printers lay down colors on a piece of paper, but in three dimensions”. These machines can build almost anything, from bikes and bike parts to food and weapons. The endless possibilities are what the patent holders want to prevent.

The patent, filed in 2007, preemptively halts owners of 3D printers from producing copyrighted products. This patent was filed because many believe that 3D printing will have a gigantic impact — for better or worse — on technology, much the same way that the Internet changed music. The filers of the patent want to prevent what happened in the music industry with file sharing from happening in the 3D printing arena.

However, some have criticized the patent because the filers are not printer’s inventors, but a company that trades in patent rights — patent trolls — simply looking to profit. The company is using Digital Rights Management (DRM) to enforce limited access to the technology.

And the United States is not the only place where there are going to be legal hurdles for 3D printers. British legal experts have cited multiple legal issues with 3D printing that also will apply in the US. Such as, liability for printed products like helmets or the possibly complex negotiations needed to get the correct licenses to print an already existing copyrighted product.

The future of the 3D printing industry seems to be on uncertain grounds. But if the issues with 3D printing parallels the issues of file sharing that hit the music industry, shouldn’t we be able to preemptively create solutions instead of blockages? There are already numerous sites where 3D printer users can share files to create and customize already existing products. So why not create a Spotify pay-per-month system that will pay rights holders for the 3D printer files?

Source:  http://www.article-3.com/3d-printing-faces-legal-blocks-years-before-mass-consumer-use-99640


Desktop Weaponeers Granted Safe Haven to Develop 3D Printed Guns | Wired

Leave a comment

Three weeks after a group of desktop gunsmiths had its leased 3D printer seized by the digital manufacturing firm that owned it, the weaponeers have quietly restarted plans to build a gun entirely of printed parts. The group has also begun expanding their operation with outside help, including space for ballistics testing provided by a mysterious firm involved in the defense industry.

Cody Wilson, founder of the Wiki Weapon project, tells Danger Room that the unnamed company’s owner “wanted to offer me a safe haven, basically.” Wilson describes the company as a “private defense firm” in San Antonio, Texas, but the company’s owner is wary of negative publicity and Wilson doesn’t want to reveal the firm’s name without consent.

“We’ve got basically a space where we can do experiments. Ballistics, basically. So it’s not quite a range — we’ve got a range — but we’ve got floor space where we can literally test the guns and set up instrumentation,” Wilson says.

A second unnamed company has also stepped in to volunteer manufacturing space. That company works with 3D printers and is based in a light industrial district in nearby Austin, where Wilson lives.

But the new assistance wouldn’t have happened had Wiki Weapon not first run into trouble acquiring a 3D desktop printer — which use layers of heated materials to create everyday objects. At the low-end, they can be used to print everything from silverware and jewelry to Warhammer miniatures. At the high-end, the printers are used in industries ranging from dentistry to aerospace. But Wiki Weapon intended to go much further by producing a working pistol.

The group was stymied in late September after a printer leased from desktop manufacturer Stratasys was seized by the company over fears the group was preparing an illegal and unlicensed gun undetectable by airport security scanners. The federal law Stratasys alleged Wilson intended to break – the Undetectable Firearms Act – provides an exemption for plastic gun prototypes made by licensed manufacturers. Within days after his printer was taken away, Wilson was also questioned after visiting a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms office in Austin. The group is now seeking a license from the agency.


Later, Wilson was approached by a licensed gun manufacturer who was apparently willing to let the group use his personal 3D printer. “But he got cold feet, so we walked away from it,” Wilson says.

The desktop gunsmiths are also forming a slew of corporations to protect Wiki Weapon against potential lawsuits. The online collective overseeing the project, called Defense Distributed, is being turned into a nonprofit 501(c)(3) engaged in “charitable public interest publishing,” Wilson says, which will distribute weapons blueprints online for free. A new research and development company created by the group called Liberty Laboratories is being incorporated in Texas and will be responsible for printing, testing and firing the guns. The group plans to start a third company for raising and protecting its private assets.

It’s not hard to see why. An early attempt at fundraising over Indiegogo was blocked until the group raised $20,000 over the online currency network Bitcoin. But the amount raised so far is fairly limited, and Wilson says the move is necessary to raise private capital.

Adding a sense of legitimacy to the project may also be a way to shield the group from some criticism. Ever since the group had its first printer taken, a raging debate has been carried out online over questions of gun control and the potential dangers regarding a future where anyone could potentially download a gun off the internet.

Gun control advocates slammed Wilson. Josh Horwitz, the executive director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, called Wilson an “extremist” involved in a “blatant, undisguised attempt to radically alter our system of government.” Backing up Wilson and Wiki Weapon were a loose coalition of gun enthusiasts, techies, libertarians and Reddit geeks.

At the same time, however, hobbyists have continued to experiment with printed gun parts. Earlier this month, one at-home manufacturer produced a working fire control group — the component which handles a gun’s trigger motion — for an AK-47 rifle. The debate will likely resume if or when Wiki Weapon produces a fully printed gun. “We have a printer on standby right now,” Wilson says. But he added that the group is looking at another five to six weeks at minimum before they’re ready, and that’s a big maybe. When (or if) the group receives a firearms license is still indeterminate.

“We want to prototype a few things first,” he says. “I think there’s no rush for me to go ahead and get into renting an Objet printer or something more high-end until one of these first few prototypes shows it has a promise.”

The good news for the group is that they’ve found companies willing to associate with DIY gun makers. It hasn’t been easy, so far. But don’t say isn’t easy isn’t impossible either.

The Dark Side of 3D Printing | 303 Magazine

Leave a comment


Body parts, jewelry, food: what once required extreme craftsmanship and an incredible amount of time and resources to create is now being reduced to an afterthought.

Our grandparents would never have believed that we could sit at home and print a feedwater heater for a 1907 White Steamer, but that’s exactly what’s happening. Although 3D printing may break down barriers and revolutionize manufacturing, we’re quickly learning about a number of dangerous drawbacks.

Printed Weapons


Using three dimensional printing, key weapon components can be manufactured out of thin air. After the myriad of devastating shootings this year, concern over gun control is growing within the United States. Deadly weapons can be purchased by anyone without a criminal record, but printing them from home will certainly amplify these concerns.

Recently, a gentleman successfully printed the lower receiver of an AR-15, and used it in conjunction with standard parts to fire live ammunition.

On his blog, the man articulates his belief that a grand array of parts can be printed if the printing material is able to withstand a certain amount of torque. His assumption is that in the short term, most components of a rifle can be printed, but until we’re able to be more selective with the materials used in 3D printers, we’ll be limited to low performance parts. While individuals have been able to manufacture gun parts in the past, it’s never been as easy as it is now with 3D manufacturing.

ATM Skimming

ATM skimming occurs when a physical add-on is attached to an automatic teller machine, unbeknownst to the user. This artificial technology is able to capture data from the magnetic strip of a debit card to later be utilized fraudulently. Skimming attachments have similarly been made to disguise tiny, unnoticeable cameras that can snag pin codes as well. Though most of us wouldn’t know it, this tactic has been ongoing for years.

3D printing is making this form of fraud more difficult to detect than ever. In fact, a group of men was arrested for stealing over $400K over a two year period using a $10,000 3D printer. ATM skimming is allowing this dodgy 3D printing technology to become more mainstream, and skimming is trickling down to other arenas such as gas stations and vending machines. It’s definitely something to keep an eye out for moving forward.

3D Printed Keys

Handcuffs are made from the strongest materials on Earth to keep even the most dangerous criminals at bay. The problem is, police departments typically employ a single generic key shape for all cuffs for ease of prisoner transport throughout a facility.

A German hacker has taken it upon himself to prove to police the world over that there are flaws in their detainment and prisoner movement systems. The man, known simply as “Ray”, has printed a number of generic plastic keys that easily unlock professional grade handcuffs made by two of the world’s most prominent manufacturers.

This should put police on notice for two reasons. First off, the original keys produced by German manufacturer Bonowi and the English firm Chubb are regulated and supposed to be only available to federal institutions, yet were easily purchased on E-bay. Secondly, Ray plans to upload the CAD drawings of the keys for all to use on the internet. Ray states that his motives are not to help criminals, but to enlighten police to this dangerous problem. Says Ray, “If someone is planning a prison or court escape, he can do it without our help, we’re just making everyone aware, both the hackers and the police.”

Counterfeiting and Intellectual Property

One of the most recognizable 3D printer manufacturers, MakerBot, is stirring up another debate. MakerBot owns an open source design sharing website called Thingiverse.com. On Thingiverse, diagrams for printing a number of objects are shared everyday. Some of these are free for all to use, but many are copyrighted materials. The CEO of the company, Bre Pettis, doesn’t seem to think there’s much of a problem. “I don’t think we need a marketplace. It’s a sharing world. We are at the dawn of the age of sharing where even if you try to sell things the world is going to share it anyway.”

Like the world of Star Wars, which has already been 3D printed, this new age industry will continue to possess a formidable dark side. How we will combat it remains to be seen.

What other problems can you see arising at the hands of 3D printing?

Source:  http://303magazine.com/2012/10/the-dark-side-of-3d-printing/



3D Printing Will Change The World | Energy and Capital

Leave a comment

Emma LaVelle Arms 3D Printing

I’d love for Emma Lavelle, a four-and-a-half-year-old, to be able to move her arms on her own.

She was diagnosed at birth with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC), a rare neuromuscular condition in which joints develop in the wrong places.

When Emma was born, her legs were attached to her ears. Her shoulders rotated the wrong way and she had nearly nonexistent biceps.

But what’s that, you say?

Emma’s already been given a robotic exoskeleton with custom-made appendages that allow her to move her arms.


Then I’d like a new house, please…

I’d like it custom-designed and completely constructed in the next 20 hours — including plumbing, electric, and all fittings and finishes.

Wait, what? This exists, too?

Then I want custom cases for all my electronics, with design and aesthetics that relate to my hobbies and interests, and that are fully functional. Maybe some of these cases have built-in stands for viewing media (like this newsletter).

Throw in a made-to-order charging dock in any shape or pattern I want that doubles as a speaker amplifier.

These are also on the market?

3D Printed Organs Bioprinting

Then I’d like a way to heal my body that’s never be accomplished before… a way to replicate my organs — or any other tissue — in case of disease or disaster.

And I want these new tissues and organs to come from my own cells, so my body doesn’t reject them.

C’mon, you’re telling me creating new organs from my existing ones can already be done?

give up.

Where did all these advances come from?

3D Printing

Put simply, a new technology called 3D printing has changed all this. And it will continue to change everything you once took for granted.

Here’s the Economist, which describes it more succinctly than I can:

It works like this. First you call up a blueprint on your computer screen and tinker with its shape and colour where necessary. Then you press print. A machine nearby whirrs into life and builds up the object gradually, either by depositing material from a nozzle, or by selectively solidifying a thin layer of plastic or metal dust using tiny drops of glue or a tightly focused beam. Products are thus built up by progressively adding material, one layer at a time: hence the technology’s other name, additive manufacturing.

Instead of printing out words on a page…

Just as you open a document and print it, 3D printing allows you to open up a design or blueprint and “print” it.

It’s real. And it’s going to affect nearly every manufactured product and company involved.

The U.S. military just opened a $30 million National Additive Manufacturing Institute in Youngstown, Ohio.

The U.S. Army deployed 20-foot shipping containers loaded with 3D printers to Afghanistan in July. Each container is staffed by two engineers and uses plastic, steel, and aluminum to print out battlefield equipment and replacement parts on the fly.

They cost $2.8 million apiece.

But the cost is coming down dramatically for do-it-yourselfers. You can get one in your home right now for about $1,000.

And that price is falling every day…

Soon we’ll reach the point — just as we did with computers in the 1990s — where everyone has one of these in their homes, able to print out whatever they want.

It will create a brand-new trillion-dollar industry where products are both designed and manufactured in the U.S.

To understand just how big it will be, though, you have to actually see it for yourself.

Only after you’ve seen a 3D printer in action and witnessed the limitless amount of products in can create can you appreciate what kind of investment scenario it presents… and how much you stand to make by investing now.

Call it like you see it,

Source:  http://www.energyandcapital.com/articles/3d-printing-will-change-the-world/2484

Will 3D Printing Change The World? | Forbes

Leave a comment

Imagine you’re steaming across the Pacific Ocean on a container ship on a great circle course to the San
 Francisco sea buoy. The sea is confused and you’ve been running the ship’s slow speed diesel
 engine hard to meet your ETA. The vibration reverberating 
through the hull gently trembling you to sleep when, without warning,
 the sound stops. Minutes later, the Chief Engineer calls to inform you
that the PLS Dosage Pump supply valve has failed and your ship is now dead in the water, a seriously overpriced pontoon, until you can get the part to fix it. As Captain, you don’t know what a PLS pump is but, from the grumpy tone of the chief’s voice, you are sure he doesn’t have a spare or any way of 
making the complicated part in the ship’s machine shop. Your shipment
 will be delayed, money and resources will be lost and the office will
 be calling soon on the satellite phone asking for answers.

But what if  you could make that replacement part yourself?

Welcome to 3D printing. A vessel’s computers may one day have a
 database of 3-Dimensional CAD (Computer Aided Design) images of each and every part on the ship, from nuts to bolts, all the way up to complex engine parts. If any of these should fail, the printer could have a suitable, made-to-spec replacement in a matter of minutes to hours.

“3D printing has the potential to change everything” says a former ship engineer. First used in the late 1980′s, this technology has been called Rapid Manufacturing, a term coined by inventor S. Scott Crump who later went on to start Stratasys [NASDAQ:SSYS] 
 I has also been called additive manufacturing or stereolithography,  more complicated terms for similar technology created at about the same time by 3D Systems [NYSE:DDD] founder Charles ‘Chuck’ Hull. While both companies have traded publicly for a decade or more, the technology has gained traction in recent years and has launched both companies into an organic growth spurt, prompting acquisitions and strong numbers, with little to no debt. While these two companies are the leaders in market cap, the entire publicly traded market cap for 3D printing companies is comparatively small, roughly 2 Billion USD. And many companies that work in this space are still privately held.

Today, 3D Printers have evolved to make a variety of objects using a laser or extruder (the material output part of the printer, best described as a futuristic hot glue gun) that move along an X, Y and Z axis to build an object in three dimensions, layer by layer, sometimes only microns thick at a time, depending on the desired resolution of the object. This method eliminates a lot of wasted materials, as any leftover powdered substrate can be immediately used on another project, alleviating the need for injection molding, setup costs, cutting, sanding, drilling and having scraps of material left over, as is common with traditional manufacturing methods. The most impressive part: economies of scale cease to be an issue as costs for single parts become standardized in relation to the costs of the material being used.

But the most stimulating possibility of this technology is unlimited customization. If you don’t like a feature of the part or object you 
are creating, simply tweak the CAD drawing to include your improvement
and print another one. Don’t know how to use CAD? Try Google Sketchup for easy design in three dimensions, or download the drawings straight 
from the manufacturer.

Parts for machines, Parts for people?

This technology is not simply for modeling and prototyping, either. TV personality Jay Leno uses a 3D printer to make custom and hard-to-find parts from scratch for his collection of classic cars. Entrepreneurs have been using these printers in a myriad of ways, and the trend is speeding up. Organovo, 
a San Diego based firm headed by CEO Keith Murphy, has high hopes for 
the future of the technology as a medical tool with surprising speed. “We currently produce organic tissues grown from cell samples, which can be used as a human analog for pharmaceutical drug discovery and development. The printing process can take as little as 12-24 hours. This can allow for more relevant results and less animal involvement than traditional research methods.” said Murphy in a recent interview. Organovo was recently listed on the OTC market under the ticker [OTCQB:ONVO]. According to Murphy “We started out in late 2008 and received $3 Million in angel investment. Since mid 2011, we have doubled in size, and recently secured another $8 Million in private funds, in conjunction with the public listing”.

One day companies like Organovo may be able to simply harvest a grown adults’ stem cells from a blood draw, use a specialized 3D printer to build an organic, polymeric scaffolding in the shape of the organ or tissue that needs to be replicated, and literally grow a kidney, heart, lungs, within a matter of days or weeks. In theory, pluripotent stem cells can be
harnessed safely from the intended transplant recipients, without 
 damage to any unborn fetuses. They offer patients no chance of organ  
rejection due to their self origin, and bypass the need for endless
 waiting lists where patients may never find themselves at the 
top before it’s too late. Imagine a world where replaceable organs were available to 
everyone who needed one. It may be coming faster than you think.

What about our wounded service men and women, returning from conflicts 
abroad, who have tragically lost limbs in service to our country? The cost of a high quality artificial limb replacement, when parted out, has been quoted in the 6 figure range. They are mostly ill fitting, take a while to manufacture and have to attempt to be customized using standardized parts; overall a poor replacement for a lost limb. And could more simple medical prints, like a tooth cap, be used in the field and aboard ships?

Bespoke Innovations, headed in San Francisco by Scott Summit, has been creating some of the most elaborate and functional prototypes for artificial limbs using 3D printers. These limbs will come out of a printer completely functioning and assembled, sometimes with many intricate moving parts and using various materials, all with a
cost parity of about $5000-$10000. Their ease of use, customizability and
 functionality, coupled with a relatively low price point, are most
 definitely a step up from their predecessors. According to Summit “3D Printing was initially a solution looking for a problem. With any world changing technology, it only matters once it actually does change the world”.

When a technology comes along and can do something better, faster and cheaper… all of a sudden you find yourself wondering how we ever got along without it. The military is rumored to use 3D printers for resupplying parts for fighter jets aboard carriers and in the combat theatre, and since it costs so much to send anything that weighs a lot into space, NASA and the Singularity University are reportedly planning to use 3D printers for future space missions. “It used to be that resupply was the Achilles Heel” says Summit. “But now you can make the parts remotely as needed, eliminating the need for inventory. On the moon, for example, you could use a naturally occurring substrate such as Silica, which is commonly found on the surface there. All you need is a binding agent.”

My D’oh Face

My personal interest was piqued years ago when I met with Jesse Waites, a fellow entrepreneur living in Boston,
 and he started rattling off the merits of 3D printing. I was dumbstruck, his 
enthusiasm sent me down a rabbit hole of investigation. And I’m not 
alone. Richard Branson, rebel billionaire and head of the Virgin Empire, couldn’t help but have his interest piqued when we spoke about 3D printing at a fundraiser in Miami Beach, yet the investing public remains generally clueless to its potential. Some people seem to ‘get it’ right away, but on a frequent basis I’m confronted the same question uttered with a furrowed brow and questioning glance; “Why would anyone use this?”

An even more disturbing question I frequently hear is “What’s the 
short term potential?” At an investor meeting held at the New York
 Stock Exchange last May (3D Systems was originally listed as TDSC on the NASDAQ but was moved to the NYSE under its current ticker DDD ), a room full of analysts asked very short term, profit-driven questions, refusing to see the future gold mine in front of their eyes. “Who would buy this?”, they ask. “Why would anyone want to create objects themselves?” Are these the same type of people who welcomed Bill Gates’
 visionary shift from hardware to software with questions like “Who is going to 
buy a disk of one’s and zero’s?”

The better question today, especially with a fully functional plug and play 3D printer called the cube (only $1299) being launched by 3D Systems in the near term, is “Who isn’t going to buy this?” One development
 that may shed some light on that question is already clear. The world’s leading source of
illegal downloads, the infamous website Pirate Bay, has already jumped on the bandwagon with downloadable physical object models, called Physibles, and  hopes to keep 3D files available to the masses. But
 some are hoping for a legally sanctioned alternative that avoids copyright issues. One expert in 3D printing said “An iTunes-like model could be profitable for digital distributors, because once you can download a coffee maker, or print out a new set of kitchen utensils on your personal 3D printer, who will visit a retail store again? Other ripples in manufacturing may follow, leading to the question ‘Could the cheap trade deficit with China be solved with 3D printing, by bringing more manufacturing back to the US’?” This remains to be seen, but experts agree this idea is within the realm of possibility.

The Possible Negatives

Some are hoping that 3D printers will eliminate the need for 
warehouses and spare parts store rooms, but 3D Printing is not a silver 
bullet. As one expert told us “You still need the 
ingredients. What happens when the part is load bearing and subject to 
high pressure and high temperature environments? What if the part is 
made of exotic material you don’t have in stock? A plastic or metal
 part might work on a temporary basis, or not.”

What about the ability to replace large parts or ones built of a mix of materials? What if a complicated part needs to be manufactured by two different types of 3D printers? Perhaps a printer with multiple heads, designed to print with multiple materials simultaneously, is the answer. These are questions which the industry still needs to figure out, but also where the plot thickens.

Self Replicating Machines

While many exotic materials have yet to be tested, current 3D printers
 can make parts from the most widely used of today’s materials. Plastic
 and PVC all the way up to Aluminum and Titanium parts can be printed,
 and printers can even print themselves. That’s correct. A printer is capable of printing a functioning copy of itself, and in the future this capability could be 
harnessed for a myriad of purposes.

Want to build a base on Mars, but need to reduce the cargo from bulky parts to raw bulk material? Send a 
signal to a single printer hundreds of thousands of miles away with instruction to print
 10 or 100 or more printers of various types, to build out bases, equipment, rovers, shuttles, whatever. Perhaps raw materials are, as in to the moon scenario, already available there, alleviating the need to send substrate with the machines. Cities under the ocean? Why not?  In the future underwater structures could be built so their foundations where contoured to the precise soundings of Google Oceans maps.

But maybe your desire for
 mass customization does not involve extraterrestrial or underwater 
excursions. What if you want to simply build a house? As Summit points out, other firms are using G.I.S. (Geographic Information System) data in conjunction with 3D printers to make houses that are structurally perfect for their location.  This experimental technology, called ‘Contour Crafting’, may soon be able to be used to rebuild not just homes but entire ports to with withstand future earthquakes that devastate places like Haiti. And the cost would be a fraction of what a traditional construction company might charge.

But what about marine transportation?

It’s clear that, if this technology is adopted on a large scale, the balance of cargo will shift from container vessels
back to bulk cargoes, but that might not be the limit. John Konrad, a 
former ship captain and expert in marine transportation says “Ships
 could conceivably become manufacturing plants. Install a bank of 3D
printers aboard ship and the vessel could pick up raw materials 
overseas and begin manufacturing products during the voyage to the 
United States.” 

With engineers and scientists currently doing amazing things around the world with this technology, an endless article could be written about the possibilities, but I think one thing is clear: 3D printing, while still just hitting its stride, will impact the future in unimaginable ways.

“We are going to live in a world where anyone can create and customize, and iterate with blinding speed.” says one financial expert. I believe that he’s right, and I can’t 
think of another technology that has so many implications for new industry. The possibilities are endless, and opportunities are coming fast and furious. “It’s like drinking from a fire hose right now.”, says Summit. Just like the Industrial Revolution, the assembly line, the advent of the internet and the Social Media phenomenon, 3D Printing will be a game changer.

Source:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/gcaptain/2012/03/06/will-3d-printing-change-the-world/3/




Creation and Copyright Law: THe Case of 3D Printing | Smart Planet

Leave a comment

The President, Rosalind Croucher, stated:

“While the Copyright Act has been amended on occasion over the past 12 years to account for digital developments, these changes occurred before the digital economy took off. The Australian Law Reform Commission will need to find reforms that are responsive to this new environment, and to future scenarios that are still in the realm of the imagination. It is a complex and important area of law and we are looking forward to some robust debate and discussion during the course of this very important Inquiry.”

In August 2012, the Commission published its issues paper, Copyright and the Digital Economy. The Commission has posed the question: “Should the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) be amended to include a broad, flexible exception?”

Over the ages, copyright law has been confronted by the emergence of a range of disruptive, new technologies, such as the printing press; the pianola roll; the photocopier; the fax machine; the video cassette recorder; the personal computer; the MP3 player; and the internet. There has often been moral panics about the impact of new inventions, which can facilitate the reproduction and the dissemination of copyright works. The history of copyright law, though, has long involved a process of accommodation of new technologies.

The Australian Law Reform Commission will have to consider the role of copyright law in light of the advent of new information technologies in the digital economy. One of the most notable emerging technologies is 3D printing, which presents both opportunities and challenges for copyright law.

3D Printing

3D printing or additive manufacturing is the process of making three-dimensional physical objects from digital models. The Economist has observed: ‘Tinkerers with machines that turn binary digits into molecules are pioneering a whole new way of making things—one that could well rewrite the rules of manufacturing in much the same way as the PC trashed the traditional world of computing.’

Established in 2009, the Brooklyn company MakerBot ® is a leader in desktop 3D printing with its technology, the MakerBot Replicator TM. The company emphasises: “Personalized manufacturing using a MakerBot Replicator™ opens up a world of innovation, customization and creativity. MakerBot recommends: “Create your own 3D designs or download one of the thousands of models from Thingiverse.com, and turn your ideas into real, physical objects”. The company envisages: “With the MakerBot Replicator™, you can invent the future and also be a hero around the house”. Moreover, the company has established a website called Thingiverse, where MakerBot owners can access and contribute to a “universe of things”.

Technology writer Chris Anderson in Wired Magazine has written an appreciative piece entitled “The New MakerBot Replicator Might Just Change Your World” He writes: “Soon, probably in the next few years, the market will be ready for a mainstream 3D printer sold by the millions at Walmart and Costco” and “a3D printer will cost $99, and everyone will be able to buy one.”

Solidoodle is another leader in 3D printing. The founder of Solidoodle, Sam Cervantes, observed: “From architectural firms creating 3D models to do it yourselfers who want to easily complete projects around their homes, our new printer enables people to create like they never have before.”

There is also RepRap, an open source community initiative designed to develop a 3D printing, which can replicate its own components.

Copyright Law

Copyright owners have been anxious and fearful about 3D printing, because they fear that it will enable the unauthorised reproduction and dissemination of copyright works. There have been already skirmishes over copyright law and the MakerBot. The Games Workshop sent a takedown copyright notice to Thomas Valenty because he used a MakerBot to design figurines – a war mecha and a tank for use in the game Warhammer 40,000.

Cory Doctorow has warned against moral panics being invoked in respect of 3D printing – focusing on such apocalyptic threats as piracy, organised crime, and terrorism.

The civil society group Public Knowledge, though, have become concerned that the technology of 3D printing will be the subject of lawsuits by intellectual property owners. The NGO recognises: “Because it allows people to create, copy, and modify objects, it will also have a large impact on our existing intellectual property laws.” The group has sought to discourage the United States Congress from passing laws that would restrict or curtail 3D printing.

Michael Weinberg of Public Knowledge commented: “Policymakers and judges will be asked to weigh concrete losses today against future benefits that will be hard to quantify and imagine.” He observed that “the community must work to educate policy makers and the public about the benefits of widespread access”.

Julie Samuels of the Electronic Frontier Foundation comments: “Open hardware printers have been used for rapid prototyping of new inventions, to print replacement parts for household objects and appliances, by DIY scientists to turn a power drill into a centrifuge, for a game in which you can engineer your own pieces, and for thousands of other purposes by makers of all stripes.” She has argued that there is a need to ensure that 3D printing is not stifled by intellectual property litigation.

There is a need to provide proper recognition of consumer rights under copyright law, so that they have the freedom to tinker and engage in remix culture and DIY design. Early adopter (and 14-year-old-student) Murray Rosenbaum observed: “The MakerBot opens up a world of opportunity for children, adults, creators, thinkers, and overall anybody who is interested in creating something that want to see physically.” In this context, there is a need to ensure that consumers experimenting with 3D printing are able to make fair uses of copyright work.

Spencer Thomson commented: “3D printing exists and, without an appropriate policy framework, we run the risks of repeating mistakes in dealing with online copyright and file-sharing that are only just now being addressed a decade on.”

Copyright Law Reform

The great hope is that the Australian Law Reform Commission will transcend the usual partisan politics of the “Copyright Wars”, and provide an independent, coherent blueprint for copyright law reform in Australia.

In Australia, the developers of 3D printing face certain risks and uncertainties in respect to litigation under Australian copyright law. Australia does not have a broad, open-ended, flexible defence of fair use, like the United States. Instead, Australia has the much more narrow defence of fair dealing. The permitted purposes for fair dealing include research and study; criticism and review; reporting the news; and parody and satire. The developers of 3D printing would struggle to obtain protection under the defence of fair dealing – outside educational applications within Australian universities.

As such, the developers behind 3D printing would be loath to establish their operations in Australia. They would be vulnerable to copyright law suits. Such entrepreneurs would be better off sheltering under the protection afforded by the defence of fair use in the United States. No wonder MakerBot and Solidoodle are based in Brooklyn, not Sydney.

Given our comparative disadvantage in the digital economy, with our strict and draconian copyright laws, Australia would be well-advised to revise its copyright laws and adopt a defence of fair use, which is flexible enough to accommodate the emergence of 3D printing.

Source:  http://www.smartcompany.com.au/legal/052825-creation-and-copyright-law-the-case-of-3d-printing/2.html