INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY: Free Software Foundation V’s 3DPrinting Copyright?

Our recent articles regarding the a new patent from Intellectual Ventures that attempts to assert ownership of DRM for 3DPrinting raises a plethora of validation issues, concerns, positive applications and negative speculations.

Technology Review’s explanation of how things would work:

“You load a file into your printer, then your printer checks to make sure it has the rights to make the object, to make it out of what material, how many times, and so on,” says Michael Weinberg, a staff lawyer at the nonprofit Public Knowledge, who reviewed the patent at the request of Technology Review. “It’s a very broad patent.”

It’s perhaps an obvious approach, which most engineers or designers could, and doubntless have, conceived. Leaving aside this familiar problem with the patent system, there’s an important expostulation that does not arise in the above exposition – that the printer has the power to disregard the users instructions: to refuse to print the object that you wish, because of the DRM in the file describing it, or there is no DRM at all.

This parallels the situation for computers, where DRM is based on the assumption that your computer is not fully under your control, and has the ability to ignore your commands. That’s one of the reasons why free software is so important: it is predicated on the idea that the user is always in control.

Against the background of the new 3DPrinting patent, this announcement from the Free Software Foundation (FSF) that it has recently certified a 3DPrinter made by Aleph Objects as “respecting the user’s freedom”, takes on a particular significance:

‘The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today awarded its first Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certification to the LulzBot AO-100 3D Printer sold by Aleph Objects, Inc. The RYF certification mark means that the product meets the FSF’s standards in regard to users’ freedom, control over the product, and privacy.’

The FSF’s criteria for making the award:

‘The desire to own a computer or device and have full control over it, to know that you are not being spied on or tracked, to run any software you wish without asking permission, and to share with friends without worrying about Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) – these are the desires of millions of people who care about the future of technology and our society. Unfortunately, hardware manufacturers have until now relied on close cooperation with proprietary software companies that demanded control over their users. As citizens and their customers, we need to promote our desires for a new class of hardware – hardware that anyone can support because it respects your freedom.’

That is, in making the award, the FSF has established that the LulzBot remains fully under the user’s control.

Until now, that hasn’t been an issue – there’s no practical way to stop someone from simply downloading a file and then printing it out on a compatible 3DPrinter. But the patent from Intellectual Ventures is the first step towards a time when users of 3DPrinters will be confronted with issues of control in exactly the same way that computer users are today.
Once 3DPrinting becomes more widespread, we can certainly expect pressure from manufacturers to bring in laws against unauthorized copying of physical objects and circumvention of 3D DRM schemes, just as the copyright industries have pushed for ever-harsher laws against file sharing.

They may even try to get open hardware systems like the LulzBot made illegal on the grounds that the user is fully in control – just as large multi-media companies would doubtless love to make computers running free software illegal?

That’s a battle they lost, largely because free software existed long before digital media files were sold to consumers.

We may not be so lucky next time…
Expanded from: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20121017/06533320729/free-software-foundation-certifies-3d-printer-why-that-matters.shtml

3DPrinting Body Organs >

Circulatory System

Circulatory System (Photo credit: kevin813)

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ARTICLE SPECIALIST KNOWLEDGE LEVEL > > > > >5

The goal of building lab-grown bodily organs out of a patient’s own cells is something that Bio-engineers have been advancing toward, but a few major challenges remain – one of them is making vasculature, the blood vessel plumbing system that delivers nutrients and removes waste from the cells on the inside of a mass of tissue.

Without these blood vessels, interior cells suffocate and die.

Growing thin layers of cells is already possible, so one proposed solution is to “print” the cells layer by layer, leaving openings for blood vessels as necessary. The downside is that this method leaves seams in the printed output: when blood is pumped through the vessels, the seams are pushed apart.

The University of Pennsylvania’s Bio-engineers have turned the problem inside out by utilising a RepRap 3DPrinter called to manufacture templates of blood vessel networks out of sugar. Once the networks are encased in a block of cells, the sugar can be dissolved, leaving a functional vascular network behind.

“I got the first hint of this solution when I visited a Body Worlds exhibit, where you can see plastic casts of free-standing, whole organ vasculature,” says Bioengineering postdoc Jordan Miller.

Miller, along with Christopher Chen, the Skirkanich Professor of Innovation in the Department of Bioengineering, other members of Chen’s lab, and colleagues from MIT, set out to show that this method of developing sugar vascular networks helps keep interior cells alive and functioning.

After the researchers design the network architecture on a computer, they feed the design to the RepRap. The printer begins building the walls of a stabilizing mold. Then it then draws filaments across the mold, pulling the sugar at different speeds to achieve the desired thickness of what will become the blood vessels.

“I got the first hint of this solution when I visited a Body Worlds exhibit, where you can see plastic casts of free-standing, whole organ vasculature,” says Bioengineering postdoc Jordan Miller.

When the sugar becomes hardened, the researchers add liver cells, suspended in a gel, to the mold. The gel surrounds the filaments, encasing the blood vessel template.

After the gel sets it can be removed from the mold with the template still inside. The block of gel is then washed in water, dissolving the remaining sugar inside – the liquid sugar then empties from the vessels it has created without harming the growing cells.

“This new technology, from the cell’s perspective, makes tissue formation a gentle and quick journey,” says Chen.

The researchers have successfully pumped nutrient-rich media, even blood, through these gels blocks’ vascular systems. They also have experimentally shown that more of the liver cells survive and produce more metabolites in gels that have these networks.

The RepRap makes testing new vascular architectures quick and inexpensive, and the sugar is stable enough to ship the finished networks to labs that don’t have 3DPrinters of their own. The researchers hope to eventually use this method to make implantable organs for animal studies.

 Video by Kurtis Sensenig

Materials: Wood Filament > > > 
The End of Opensource? > > >
3 Colour Home 3DPrinting > > > 

3DPrint Patent Is Weak – New Scientist >

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(Image: Martine Roch/Flickr/Getty)

‘One of the greatest benefits of 3DPrinting technology – the ability to make replacements or parts for household objects like toys, utensils and gadgets – may be denied to US citizens thanks to the granting of a sweeping patent that prevents the printing of unauthorised 3D designs. It has all the makings of the much-maligned digital rights management (DRM) system that prevented copying of Apple iTunes tracks – until it was abandoned as a no-hoper in 2009.

US patent 8286236, granted on 9 October to Intellectual Ventures of Bellevue, Washington, lends a 3D printer the ability to assess whether a computer design file it’s reading has an authorisation code appended that grants access for printing. If it does not, the machine simply refuses to print – whether it’s a solid object, a textile or even food that’s being printed.

The piracy of 3D designs is indeed an emerging concern, and 3D object sharing – rather than file sharing – sites have already sprung up. While no 3DPrinter maker has adopted what might be called “3D DRM”, international treaties like the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement mean it is not out of the question.

“Clamping down on moves to 3DPrint handguns may fuel such moves, for instance.”

What has riled some tech commentators (here and here for instance) is the fact that Intellectual Ventures that does not make 3DPrinters at all, but simply trades in patent rights – a practice detractors call ‘patent trolling.’

The firm, run by Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold, quietly files patents under the names of a great many shell companies (as this Stanford University analysis shows) and then licenses them to companies using the ideas it lays claim to, litigating if it has to. Intellectual Ventures is thought to hold more than 40,000 patents.

The new patent may face challenges to its validity, however, because it extends rights management beyond 3DPrinting to much older computerised manufacturing techniques, such as computer-controlled milling, extrusion, die casting and stamping.

Companies in those businesses are likely to have previously considered some kind of design rights authentication, says Greg Aharonian, of bustpatents.com in San Francisco. He says that museums were wondering how to protect 3D sculptures against printer piracy back in 2002 and that DRM was in the frame then. So Intellectual Ventures’ claim to novelty – a key part of whether any patent is determined to be valid and enforceable – looks weak…’

http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/onepercent/2012/10/patent-could-shackle-3d-printers-drm.html

CNN Suggests 3DPrinting is Going Mainstream >

In this video, CNN highlights another way 3DPrinting is expanding its presence in our everyday lives.  It’s a nice video, but it doesn’t do justice to this technology. 
For example: General Electric (NYSE: GE) currently produces jet engine turbine blades with 3DPrinting and saves an estimated $25,000 per engine.  If GE builds its estimated 5850 jet engines in 2012, it will save over $146 million on this one part for this one product alone.
SelectTech Geospatial developed and built a fully functional drone aircraft with 3DPrinting in two weeks (instead of six) at a cost of $5,000 (instead of $30,000).Popular Mechanics designated 3DPrinting as a Top Ten Tech Breakthrough for 2012.

Headbobble.com will custom build a bobblehead doll in your likeness with color 3DPrinting!

“3DPrinting is hyped, but mainstream and growing. “

But where to turn to invest in this new phenomena? 

Formlabs and Makerbot, the companies featured in the video, are not publicly traded… companies that are include 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD) and Stratasys (NASDAQ: SSYS).

They build the printers, develop the materials and write the software for both commercial and personal use.  Both are considered leaders in the 3DPrinting industry.  Both are similar in size (DDD is $2 billion market cap, SSYS is $1.3 billion) and valuation (the PE for DDD is 62, SSYS is 70).  Both are coming off recent declines in their stock prices of about 20%.  No question both companies bear the burden of high expectations for steadily improving earnings and game changing technology.  I think they both are up to the challenge.

DDD reports steadily increasing earnings from operations with a 50% quarterly revenue growth yoy.  DDD recently acquired Bespoke Innovations, a company that 3D manufactures custom prosthetic limbs for amputees.  The Dutch firm TIM was acquired this past month.  TIM is a full service, on demand 3D manufacturer of custom parts in Europe.  Just announced is the acquisition of Rapidform of South Korea, a 3D scanning, reverse engineering and inspection firm.  Rapidform is expected to add six to nine cents a share to DDD’s earnings, a 10% boost.  Additionally, DDD has joined with the Smithsonian Institute to make 3D printed replicas of the Institute’s collection of artifacts.

SSYS isn’t sitting down on the job, either.  Their big move is merging with Objet Printing, an Israeli company that has supplied 3DPrinters to Israel Aerospace Industries.  This merger combines SSYS’s manufacturing capabilities with Objet’s rapid prototyping expertise into one firm – a potent combination.  This should add to SSYS’s record earnings reported last August.  NASA is using SSYS 3DPrinters to design complex parts for its next Mars rover.  Piper Aircraft has recently turned to the Fortus 3D Printer to help it build its new Altaire single engine jet.  Turns out, Piper can design specialized tools and parts in two thirds less time than traditional methods.  And we all know, time is money.

Another 3DPrinting player is Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK), a firm that develops the software to design a product and relies on partner companies to actually print the thing out.  ADSK is a leader in 3D design and engineering in a wide variety of industries.  The Autodesk 123D 3D printing software is free and generally elicits favorable reviews.  For example, an Apple iPhone or iPad user can take pictures of some thing, upload the images to the ADSK cloud, and voila, a 3D model is made.  The software allows the user to touch up the model before actually printing it.  The company, as an investment though, isn’t performing like DDD or SSYS.

As the above graph from Yahoo! Finance illustrates, ADSK has increased in share price in the past year, but has been outgunned by both DDD and SSYS.  ADSK has acquired other firms to boost its presence in cloud computing and CAD.  However, its 2Q earnings announcement in August disappointed and company guidance didn’t generate much excitement. ADSK reports that 72% of its net revenue comes from foreign countries.  Perhaps the economic slowdown in Europe and Asia contributes to less than great expectations.

3DPrinting is a viable, growing technology.  In August, 2011, Forbes quoted The Wohler’s Report that projected 3DPrinting growing from a $1.3 billion industry in 2010 to a $5.2 billion industry in 2020.  Commercial applications prove 3D designed and printed parts can be made faster and cheaper than traditional manufacturing methods.  I believe DDD and SSYS represent the best opportunities.  There will be bumps on the way for these two companies.  Given their current presence, patented technology and aggressive acquisitions, I believe investors would do well to invest in this part of the future.

Tickers: DDDADSKGESSYS http://ow.ly/eri4G 

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY: Update >

Industries that would almost certainly be put out of business by 3DPrinting, were it to become a household norm, are not going to go down without a fight, say legal experts. And what will be their weapon of choice? 

Intellectual property laws…

The presumed fear is that people will eventually be able to download CAD files, or create their own with advanced 3DScanners, of anything in the world: shoes, televisions, guitars, iPhones, and on, and on. Yes, 3DPrinter users would likely have to create these object piece-by-piece (as is currently the case). But in the end, they would still have a complete product. So just as the movie and music industries have gone after bit-torrent files and the sites that share them in their war against online piracy, so too will manufacturers attack CAD files and CAD file sharing, experts watching the space believe.

 

As incumbent companies begin to see small-scale 3DPrinting as a threat, they will inevitably attempt to restrict it by expanding intellectual property protections

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wrote Michael Weinberg, a staff lawyer for Public Knowledge, in a recently published white paper on 3DPrinting. “In doing so they will point to easily understood injuries to existing business models such as lost sales, lower profits, and reduced employment.”

Prepare for battle?

This is a cycle we’ve seen before. Weinberg notes that “incumbent companies” put up similar fights against the printing press, photo copiers, VCRs, and even the personal computer. In the case of the PC, writes Weinberg:

these interests pushed through laws like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that made it harder to usecomputers in new and innovative ways.”

The challenge for the fledgling 3DPrinting industry is to understand “how intellectual property law relates to 3DPrinting, and how changes might impact 3DPrinting’s future,” so that it will be ready to fight “before incumbents try to cripple 3DPrinting with restrictive intellectual property laws.”

While patent and trademark law may be used by established industries to trample 3DPrinting, both have a number of limitations that will make them difficult to use against home 3DPrinting, explains Weinberg. Instead, threatened industries will likely seek to strengthen copyright laws to make the recreation of objects — or even the creation of objects that perform the same function as a copyrighted item — illegal.

“Useful objects could be protected for decades after creation. Mechanical and functional innovation could be frozen by fears of massive copyright infringement lawsuits,” warns Weingberg. “Furthermore, articles that the public is free to recreate and improve upon today would become subject to inaccessible and restrictive licensing agreements.”

 

At the very least, says Weinberg, “rightsholders could insist that, in order to avoid liability, 3DPrinter manufacturers incorporate restrictive DRM that would prevent their printers from reproducing CAD designs with ‘do not copy’ watermarks.”

 

What next?

As mentioned, the goal of Weinberg’s paper is to prepare the 3DPrinting industry and its customers for a coming legal battle over this emerging technology. For the moment, however, 3DPrinting remains a niche.

 

If Weinberg is right, so-called incumbent companies will flex whatever muscles they can to stop that day from ever arriving…

Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/3d-printing-and-copyright-lawsuits/#ixzz294d3Vg9d

Amazing Homemade 3DPrinted Drone >

When Mitre Corporation, a McLean-based defense contractor announced that they were looking for summer interns, University of Virginia engineering student Steven Easter and his brother and lab partner, Jonathan Turman applied the job. They got the assignment: to build an unmanned aerial vehicle, using 3DPrinting technology.

Luckily they got support from Professor David Sheffler, a 20-year veteran in aerospace engineering. Between May and August the team has been working on designing and building a plane entirely from parts from a 3DPrinter.

The plane has a 2 metre wingspan and all the parts were printed in layers in plastic. During four test flights in August and early September at Milton Airfield near Keswick, the plane achieved a cruising speed of 70 kilomertres per hour.

There are seven 3DPrinters in the Engineering School’s Rapid Prototyping Lab. These 3DPrinters allows students to design, modify and print the parts until they get exactly what they want…

(The unmanned aerial vehicle, “dressed” in U.Va.’s colors.)


(Mechanical and aerospace engineering professor and project adviser David Sheffler, left, with the “printed” plane’s creators, Steven Easter, center, and Jonathan Turman. )

This is “the third 3DPrinted plane known to have been built and flown.” notes in UVA Today’s news. The technology also allows students to take on complex design projects that previously were impractical.

“To make a plastic turbofan engine to scale five years ago would have taken two years, at a cost of about $250,000,” Sheffler said. “But with 3DPrinting we designed and built it in four months for about $2,000. This opens up an arena of teaching that was not available before. It allows us to train engineers for the real challenges they will face in industry.”

 

The students work impressed Mitre Corp. representatives and Army officials, they got a new task – “to build an improved plane – lighter, stronger, faster and more easily assembled.”

Besides creating an attractive and operational unmanned airplane, this is also a valuable experience for the students. “The students sometimes put in 80-hour workweeks, with many long nights in the lab.”

“It was sort of a seat-of-the-pants thing at first – wham, bang,” Easter said. “But we kept banging away and became more confident as we kept designing and printing out new parts.”

Source: UVA Today

iPhone 3D Scanner: Trimensional >

Available now on the App Store: Trimensional

The world’s first 3D scanner for iPhone is here. Instantly capture 3D models of yourself, friends, and family, and share the amazing results with the world.Trimensional uses both the screen and the front-facing camera on your iOS device, detecting patterns of light reflected off your face to build a true 3D model.Not only is it incredible technology, but it’s incredibly fun! Capture goofy expressions, view your face from any angle, and customize the look of the 3D rendering before sending it off to all of your friends.

So, turn out the lights, turn up your screen brightness, and get ready for your close-up as you capture 3D scans using your iPhone 4 or iPod Touch (4th Generation). For best results, an extremely dark room is required and iPhone screen brightness must be set to maximum.

What’s New?

Trimensional: MakerBot Edition

-Trimensional can now share movies and animated GIFsof your 3D scans.

-Advanced users can unlock the 3D Model Export feature in order to create physical copies of any scanned object on a 3D printer, or to import textured 3D scans into popular 3D graphics software.

-Sign up to be notified when we release Trimensional for Android devices.