Here’s an important call-to-action from the EFF who are encouraging the 3D community to help them identify and challenge “patent applications that particularly threaten growing 3D printing technologies” to prevent “creative” patent drafting from locking up the incredible innovation currently at play in this emerging field now that the 20-year patents that introduced the concept have expired:
Thanks to the open hardware community, you can now have a 3D printer in your home for just a few hundred dollars, with dozens of printer models to choose from and build upon. Community-designed printers already outclass proprietary printers costing 30 times as much. This incredible innovation is possible because the core patents covering 3D printing technologies started expiring several years ago, allowing projects such as RepRap to prove what we already knew—that openness often outperforms the patent system at spurring innovation.
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. Projects like MakerBot and Solidoodle have made 3D printers accessible on a plug-and-play basis, so you don’t even need a soldering iron to start manufacturing objects you designed or downloaded from the internet. As additional patents expire, the open hardware community will be able to unleash its creative spirit on new technologies, technologies that have already been used to design custom prosthetics, guitars, shoes, and more. The possibilities are limitless.
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has thrilled us at Adafruit with its passion and dedication to making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed that our community integrating electronics projects into 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you take considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless EL Wire and LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you have a cool project you’ve made that joins the traditions of 3D printing and electronics, be sure to send it in to be featured here!