Most of us were lucky enough to have at least one box full of Lego bricks as children. Along as serving as an unintentional caltrop for unsuspecting adults, Lego was an early way of expressing ideas in a physical form. Additive manufacturing (AM) operates in much the same manner. 3D printers can build nearly whatever a designer or engineer can imagine and build in a CAD program.
Lego and 3D printing have been in the news a fair amount recently, following an article in the Financial Times about the potential threat to the toy maker from AM. Both Time and The Washington Post have covered the story, talking with people at Lego and in the AM industry about the potential for later complications. Continue reading
Additive manufacturing (AM) has become an integral part of a number of businesses and industries, including aerospace and medical, and the technology’s impact is only likely to increase as time passes. Defense is taking a hard look at AM, automotive is finding ways to leverage 3D printing, and numerous small businesses still find plenty of rapid prototyping value in their AM systems.
Continued growth relies on innovation as much as consumer appeal and, in a capitalist world economy, the monetary forces that drive innovation generally come from outside investments. Alan Meckler has launched the first 3D printing mutual fund, named the “3D Printing and Technology Fund,” to bring more funds to the global business of 3D printing. Continue reading
Most you probably remember when Amazon was just an online book company and that seemed like a crazy idea. Who wants to buy books online? Most people assumed half the joy of buying a new book lay in going to a bookstore and flipping through the pages of potential buys. Certainly Borders didn’t think this new internet thing was going to challenge it for sales.
It turned out that plenty of people were willing to buy books online, even more so when they received a discount. Customer reviews replaced flipping through pages. Success led to diversification, and now Amazon sells just about everything you can think of while Borders has vanished. More recently, Amazon added a 3D printing section to the site and now 3D scanners have popped up, ready for customer reviews. Continue reading
By this point even the dourest of analysts might be willing to concede that additive manufacturing (AM) is more than just a trend. Big business, defense, and the medical industry have all shown a keen interest in what 3D printing can accomplish, and growing numbers of home users are also experimenting with the technology.
For most of its lifespan, the AM market has been self-contained with companies such as 3D Systems and Stratasys ruling the roost, but that could all change with the emergence of larger companies, the likes of HP, showing signs they might enter the business. Epson is the latest corporation to talk about moving into AM, and President Minoru Usui recently had some interesting things to say about the 3D printing market. Continue reading
Although many people might think of Apple v. Samsung as an example of modern big business gone wrong, the lawsuit has long been a staple of business strategy in the United States. Thomas Edison was notorious for his patent lawsuits, often using them to drive competitors out of business. This same strategy has been embraced by companies of every shape and size, but becomes more noticeable when giants rumble or when a larger company seems to be unfairly targeting smaller competitors.
By most analyst’s reckoning, the first big boom in desktop 3D printers came as a result of the expiration of key patents pertaining to Stratasys’ Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) process. The expirations galvanized the open source community, resulting in the RepRap, which in turn gave birth to companies like MakerBot. For a while it seemed as though Stratasys gave its blessing to these developments by not attempting to halt open source development with claims of patent infringement. That time now appears to have passed. Continue reading