when 3D printers hit the $500 mark

10 Dec

Met an interesting guy on the plane yesterday, a guy who happens to
know a lot about 3D printers
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_printing). In industry, this is
already a big deal. It’s also been experimented with medical
applications. What I find really interesting is when it hits consumer
space. Turns out there’s already a $5000
printer. All it would take is a couple of enterprising manufacturers –
an Epson or an HP – to come along and soon enough, these devices might
hit the $500 mark, enough for most households to get into.

I heard an activist a while ago talking about the UK proposed three
strikes law, and he was arguing that all we need to do is wait out
politicians who “don’t get it” for another decade or so, and all will
be good. Music industry by that time will realise people don’t want
physical cassettes/vinyl/CDs and movie industry will realise people
don’t want physical cassettes/discs. But that argument forgets that
it’s all a moving target, and an exponentially moving one at that.

With 3D printers will come the possibility of making physical goods.
Small ones at first and building up to furniture, clothes, who knows.
And with it will come a whole raft of questions about intellectual
property, what’s good for innovation, what’s morally correct for
society, Most fun of all, the question of who can operate a 3D printer
that’s capable of cloning itself.

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