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.
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.
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.
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.
How 3D printing fits into the digital thread, and the relationship between its uses for prototyping and for manufacturing, was the subject of a talk by Proto Labs' Rich Baker at last week's Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis.
How can automakers, aerospace contractors, and other OEMs get new metal alloys that are stronger, harder, and can survive ever higher temperatures? One way is to redesign their crystalline structures at the nanoscale and microscale.
Although a lot of the excitement about 3D printing and additive manufacturing surrounds its ability to make end-products and functional prototypes, some often ignored applications are the big improvements that can come by using it for tooling, jigs, and fixtures.
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