What will happen when 3D-printing stops being a toy? #youtube #defcad

I’m not exactly pro-guns or anything like that – am not a great fan, plus those are “American” questions from a British viewpoint – however this YouTube video really makes you think about the future of intellectual property.

If the first minute puts you off, do stick with it; it’s a short video and it’s the latter two thirds which made me think:

One Reply to “What will happen when 3D-printing stops being a toy? #youtube #defcad”

  1. Mmm. Much to think about, from this.

    First, I’m not sure why they reckon they need their own search engine. If 3D print files get posted in places existing search engines would crawl, any requirement made of those search engines to block said files – or of the hosting sites to take them down – would need sufficient weight behind it that the organising of that requirement could instead be used to take Defcad’s own engine and repository down. Also, I don’t see why the world needs another search engine; there’s already enough of them out there, to provide reasonable resilience, and searchable repositories can be run for hobbyist costs, for now.

    Second, while the barriers to entry for 3D printing are coming down as printers get cheaper, the industry is going to go far more mainstream with the release of the 3D digitiser from Makerbot – and other vendors will definitely be following suit. Once you don’t need technical expertise to do 3D printing, and thus the intellectual barriers to entry are dropped (other than a one-off setup you could get an appropriate techie to do for you), you end up with the situation that if you can make something in plasticine, Lego, paper, selaing wax and string – so long as it retains shape and integrity long enough to go through the scanning process, you can get it made by a 3D printer, no CAD necessary. Schools will go made for them, which means kids will want them at home – and abracadabra, you’re mainstream.

    Third, I wouldn’t worry too much about the gun thing, until non-industrial 3D printing gets to the point where it can make things which have the structural integrity of machined weapon-grade metals, or the ceramics that the important bits (barrel especially) of some recent pistols use. A magazine is almost incidental, from the perspective of those parts of a gun which have major stresses on them; the lower receiver of an AR15 or M16 is more interesting as it’s the part which is registered, and also has more compressive and torsional forces acting on it in use. Move registration requirements to barrels, hammers / pins and other parts which experience extreme forces in firing – anything which can’t be 3D printed, basically – and the problem as perceived, gets mitigated. (Full disclosure: I’m “pro-gun, with pragmatism”, and find target shooting very relaxing, though I only do it with airguns these days.)

    Fourth, Bitcoin. I’m still undecided about Bitcoin, from the perspectives of both its intrinsic properties, manageability and exchange mechanisms; the dollar exchange rate has seriously shot up of late, and I think it’s worth watching to see if and how it proceeds over time. Had it a more widespread digital infrastructure, I was almost hoping (and definitely wondering whether) South Sudan might have adopted Bitcoin as its official currency – after all, not every country mints the currency used for practical transactions there. Economists and lawyers must be looking at it very carefully, for certain – and not just in the context of money laundering and “digital smuggling”.

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