Attention for the 3D Printer

September 21, 2010

In the constant discussion of creative commons and copyrights, I can’t help but think about the evolution and recent developments of rapid prototyping and the 3D printer. The concept this technology allows you to transform a blueprint on a computer into a solid object created by a sucession of layered material bonded together with glue or a laser. It first emerged in the 1990’s for use in large corporations, and with a hefty price tag. Originally it was predicted that there would eventually be a 3D printer in every home.

So what changed? It has been a given technology that hasn’t applied to the working person, at least until late. In the last several years the concept of the self-replicating 3D printer, or the rep-rap was designed and created under the GNU license, meaning anyone with the desire and will could create a 3D printer that could create itself with no extra cost but the materials themselves. Suddenly, the price point for the machine decreases over $500. Since this open-source improvement, more development has been evolving the machines to be faster, more efficient and develop upon it’s own design. They are currently developing being able to print circuits on a rep-rap. Now you can own your very own 3D printer for several thousand dollars now, though still a steep sum for many, has drastically increased the accessibility of the machine.

And where is it going? Scientists announced several months ago that the 3D printer technology is now being used in labs to print organic, living cells to print arteries, skin and other tissue with the hopeful eventuality to print full organs. It is expected to be a medical breakthrough for the medical world, as well as military (as printed skin could greatly improve survival rates of injured soldiers).

The point being, this technology that was expected to be in every household was stifled by the licensing of big corporations. The invention of the self-replicating 3D printer has taken a technology that was financially and technologically unacceptable to a level that not only promotes creativity and knowledge but has already evolved into a medical revolution.

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