Great idea and happy to read about this type of product. I can see this opening the doors for many small business owners who want to create a little extra income by making parts for larger suppliers. Since this has a reasonable initial investment cost, this type of technology trend could help stimulate the growth of small busineses.
Good point about patents. I don't see this problem sorting itself out soon. For one thing, patents matter -- as evidenced by the patent wars in smart phone and tablet technology. And you can't limit the patents to significant technology because it's had to tell what technology will end up significant.
Glad to see all this enthusiasm. And it's too bad about the patent office--I agree with Lou. Way too many trivial patents, and even more copies of basically the same idea. That's at least one reason why so many innovative people are going to online platforms like Kickstarter.
Rob, you might have a point about the patent office. Big companies, like GE. generate thousands of patents each year. I doubt that anyone internally really understands how to use most of them. In addition, have you ever noticed all of the insignificant products that are patented? This should tell one something. The pace of innovation is fast becuase of the availability of information and the "sunk cost" in the innovations that came before. This won't slow down.
An in-depth survey of 700 current and future users of 3D printing holds few surprises, but results emphasize some major trends already in progress. Two standouts are the big growth in end-use parts and metal additive manufacturing (AM) most respondents expect.
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