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Engineering Materials
Slideshow: 3D-Print, Etch & Mill in 1 Machine
9/12/2013

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The latest in Kickstarter's clever, ingenious, and useful manufacturing products is the Microfactory, which combines 3D printing, milling, and etching in one system.(Source: Mebotics)
The latest in Kickstarter's clever, ingenious, and useful manufacturing products is the Microfactory, which combines 3D printing, milling, and etching in one system.
(Source: Mebotics)

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Rob Spiegel
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Prototyping gadget
Rob Spiegel   9/12/2013 11:14:58 AM
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I love this all-in-one prototyping machine -- an inventive machine for inventive people. Man, new inventions are coming so quickly, we should close the Patent Office.

Charles Murray
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Re: Prototyping gadget
Charles Murray   9/12/2013 5:30:54 PM
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I think you're part of a big club, Rob. At the Medical Design & Manufacturing Show this week, rapid prototyping and 3D printing were the talk of the show and those booths attracted large crowds.

naperlou
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Re: Prototyping gadget
naperlou   9/13/2013 9:18:26 AM
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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.

TJ McDermott
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Re: Prototyping gadget
TJ McDermott   9/13/2013 11:53:50 AM
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Another machine we could call a Fabber.  I want one, I want one!  My employer's not going to pony up for one on my desk though, and I don't think my wife's going to be pleased if I swing it myself.

I think you're correct about the patent office and Naperlou nailed the reason on the head - the insignificant patents issued is choking the system.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Prototyping gadget
Ann R. Thryft   9/13/2013 12:31:39 PM
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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 Spiegel
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Re: Prototyping gadget
Rob Spiegel   9/20/2013 1:27:53 PM
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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.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Prototyping gadget
Ann R. Thryft   9/24/2013 11:41:34 AM
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I think you're right about patents, Rob. This reminds me of some of the early days of desktop publishing and of the web itself. The intellectual property issues are potentially equally huge.



Greg M. Jung
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Small Businesses
Greg M. Jung   9/28/2013 11:33:15 PM
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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.

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