3D printing will explode in 2014, thanks to the expiration of key patents - Quartz
Here’s what’s holding back 3D printing, the technology that’s supposed to revolutionize manufacturing and countless other industries: patents. In February 2014, key patents that currently prevent competition in the market for the most advanced and functional 3D printers will expire, says Duann Scott, design evangelist at 3D printing company Shapeways. These patents cover a technology known as “laser sintering,” the lowest-cost 3D printing technology. Whenever someone talks about 3D printing revolutionizing manufacturing, they’re talking about the kinds of goods produced by, for example, the industrial-grade 3D printing machines used by Shapeways. A huge drop in price and a flood of Chinese 3D printers Older models of 3D printers are already pouring out of China. Once the key patents on 3D printing via laser sintering expire, we could see huge drop in the price of these devices, says Scott. Many of those inexpensive 3D printers are being manufactured in—where else?