Sunday, February 24, 2013

3D Printo

Improvements of printing technology combined with powerful tools like the Microsoft Kinect camera allow individuals to make things like never before. And at lease under UK law, S. Bradshaw et al. think "private 3D printer owners making items for personal use and not for gain are exempt from the vast majority of IP constraints." And at the rate that data and designs spread - its unlikely that any organization like Disney or anyone can really send enough cease and desists . . . not to mention the ability of courts to enforce their requests. 

I thought NPR's coverage of 3D printing was interesting. One of their resources: Weinberg brought up the point that suing (even if its within your rights) might not be in copyright holders' best interests. he says, "Instead of attacking them, Weinberg adds, the company would have been better off selling digital designs to print out Tintin himself . . . or [they]  
can spend that same time and money and apply it toward finding a way to use the technology to your advantage."

But other than IP infringement I think 3D printing will bring some really exciting improvements to life. Instead of patents and profits being the impetus for marketable designs, hopefully designs will be great for their usefulness, ingenuity and ease to produce. I'd like to think that this convenience will promote more value through creativity than harm from copycatting and infringement. An article by Forbes gives a glimpse of the technology's power and potential in fields like medicine.

Its a bummer that Moulinsart isn't making money from 3D designs of TinTin's ship, but following Lean principles, they should reconsider how they can bring value to their fans. So, the question that I pose regarding 3D printing is: How can we go beyond how people get paid to how design can make the world better? What will change in how companies create value?

1) S Bradshaw, A Bowyer and P Haufe, "The Intellectual Property Implications of Low-Cost 3D Printing", (2010) 7:1 SCRIPTed5, 

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