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What is 3D printing?

Julie Sartain | March 25, 2014
Inside the magical world of 3D printing.

Disruptive technologies attorney Paul Banwatt adds, "I was surprised by Gartner's $100 billion number; my own view is more optimistic. If there really are enough 3D printers out there to commit that level of IP theft, there is even more potential value. But I don't believe that the primary purpose of 3D printers is to commit IP theft, just as the primary purpose of personal computers was not to break the law, even though many computers are used to do so. Current and potential IP rights-holders should be thinking about their 3D IP portfolios and getting creative with new opportunities, such as authorized community participation in customized product designs and accessories, created by the ability to scan and print 3D objects at low cost."

Future 3D
Basiliere predicts that enterprise-class desktop 3D printers will be available for less than $2,000 by 2016 and that seven of the 50 largest multinational retailers will sell 3D printers online and/or in their physical locations early next year. Some of the superstores such as Staples, for example, are already stocking and selling 3D printers. More will follow soon. Gartner also predicts that shipments will nearly double every year through 2017, then more than double each year thereafter.

"This new industrial revolution (also a book by Chris Anderson) is about the 'Maker' community — a term Anderson popularized — which is also about those individuals who are extreme enthusiasts and brilliant hobbyists who like making things—not only with 3D printers, but with other tools as well," adds Basiliere.

"It's a growing universe of people who are interested in making all things, every things —just as some of the patents of the material extrusion technologies are rolling off. But 3D printers are just the beginning, and what a place to begin. In their world, anything is possible and nothing is broken. But if it does break, they just 3D print another one. They even created a printer that can make its own 3D replacement parts. Now that's real progress."


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