A lot of people like to throw in the word “democratization” when talking about additive manufacturing (AM). They believe that the 3D printing revolution will give entrepreneurs and home users alike the ability to customize manufacturing in a way never before possible. In place of assembly lines churning out virtual clones of the same product, the democratization of manufacturing gives buyers and designers the chance to put their own spin on a product, and even to launch new product lines without the often prohibitive initial investment.
What’s missing from the picture of democratization is the widespread adoption of AM required to fulfill the vision. Certainly AM has already made an impact on manufacturing, but, excepting companies like Shapeways, consumers don’t have any more control over the final design of a product than they did before. In addition to being available for consumers, 3D printers need to be visible as products. Amazon has taken a step to promoting AM visibility with the launch of its 3D printer sales department.
Rapid Ready has been covering the idea of building guns and firearm-related peripherals using additive manufacturing (AM) for about as long as it’s been a twinkling in the eye of gun enthusiasts. Defense Distributed has realized its goal of designing, printing and test firing the world’s first 3D printed gun. Plans for the weapon are already available online. This achievement was immediately met with both cheers and boos, depending on which side of the gun control issue people stand on.
The gun rights crowd cheered the success of the “Liberator” as another step forward for freedom. Senator Chuck Schumer isn’t as big a fan. No sooner had the story gone out that the first 3D printed gun would indeed fire, than Sen. Schumer was already proposing a new bill called the Undetectable Firearms Modernization Act, which would make using AM to build firearms illegal. Continue reading
In the course of my diligent efforts to keep you good people up to date on the state of additive manufacturing (AM), I come across many interesting news items. I’ll gather them up every so often and present them in a Rapid Ready Roundup (like this one). You can find the last Roundup here.
We’ll start today’s Roundup with a NAMII update. Hot on the heels on a recent announcement that seven AM projects have received $4.5 million in funding from NAMII, comes news of further funding from the research and development center. Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), a member of NAMII, has been granted new funding to develop two different AM-related projects. Continue reading
The patent system was originally intended to preserve the work and creativity of companies and individuals. When the system was first implemented in the U.S. in 1871, the number of patents the office received was a reasonable number that could be handled without much difficulty. Over the last decade, the flow of patents has become a flood, and the system has simply begun to break down.
As an example of the problem, if you include court costs, Apple and Google spent more on patents in 2012 than either company spent on R&D. Patents are becoming increasingly less specific, hoping to cover broader areas, leading to “patent trolls” effectively squashing innovation by threatening legal action against any individual or company that even brushes up against the edge of an approved patent. Continue reading
Success or failure for any business venture is as much about luck and marketing as the product or service offered. Project funding on Kickstarter proves this point as well as any marketing class could ever hope. I’ve talked about marketing success on Kickstarter before when looking at the RoBo 3D, and you could almost think of this post as a companion piece.
The DeltaMaker is the newest 3D printer project on Kickstarter to be fully funded. It’s managed to raise almost $148,000, putting it around $40,000 over its goal. The hobbyist additive manufacturing (AM) system from the company of the same name has taken a unique angle, literally, on 3D printing by basically setting a printer on end to allow for a larger build area with a smaller footprint. Continue reading