3D Printing and Patents

I’ve finished what should be my final round of edits on Bingham, so now I’m turning my full attention to the article on 3D printing that Deven and I are working on.  He can speak for himself, of course, but I thought I’d start a series of posts on the project.

I went to see a 3D printer today (for the first time) at a university.  It didn’t work.  The device reminds me a lot of a computer in the 1970s.  You need to tinker with it a lot to make it run, it has a completely open architecture, and there is lots of room for experiments. There is also no IP presence in the 3D printing community.  The software is open source, and the machines and their output are generally treated as a common resource for learning.

In a generation, this will probably seem as fanciful as the computer industry of the 1970s does to us now.  (If the other Steve, Steve Wozniak, had become the leading force at Apple with his open-source philosophy, consumer technology would probably look different today.) This is something to keep in mind as we think about the patent implications of 3D printing.

More on this on Monday . . .

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