Fernando Sosa had no doubt his sword-covered iPhone dock inspired by the hit TV series “Game of Thrones” would become a top seller for his small manufacturing startup. Then he heard from HBO.
Defending a copyright on electronics featuring its show, HBO in February demanded Sosa halt sales on his website. He did, and gave more than a dozen customers refunds for $49.99.
Sosa is part of the swelling ranks of designers facing legal challenges for using consumer versions of 3-D printers once found only on factory floors.
“It’s going to be a problem for the future,” said Sosa, co-owner of Nuproto LLC in Orlando, Florida. “A lot of new products are going to come out, and big companies are going to squash the little companies.”
Clashes are cropping up as 3-D printers become more affordable and websites such as Thingiverse.com post blueprints to help the machines build everything from toy tanks to replacement toaster parts. The disputes are ushering in a new era in legal skirmishes over high-tech designs, threatening a printing market that’s estimated by Wohlers Associates Inc. to surge to $10.8 billion by 2021 from $2.2 billion last year.
“We’re at the tipping point,” Darrell Mottley, a patent and trademark attorney at Banner & Witcoff Ltd. in Washington, said in an interview. “The technology has got to where it’s not that expensive. If you’re a manufacturer and people start making their own replacement parts, what does that mean?”
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you 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 LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
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’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!