A 3D printer is, at heart, a prototyping machine. They will never be able to compete on volume alone.
What they can compete on is high-volume customization. Josef Prusa, the designer of the Prusa Mendel, wrote a Python script to automatically add a custom pair of initials to the many whistles he prints out as gifts.
The great thing about open source is that people do cool stuff like this and then give it away! You an download the WhistleGen program Josef Prusa wrote from his GitHub repository. Perhaps someone could modify it to take advantage of two-color or multi-color extruders.
We’ve all read It Will Be Awesome If They Don’t Screw It Up. Right? If you haven’t read it, go ahead and do that now.
Michael Wineberg is the staff attorney at Public Knowledge, an organization that represents the public’s interests in open access to technology and information. He/they recently put on an event intended to bring political representatives, the public, and open source hardware together for an introduction (and maybe group hug if the mood is right). It was called OH/DC and hopefully we’ll see some media come out of it.
Cat Johnson at Shareable has a nice interview with Mr. Wineberg in which he explains Public Knowledge’s strategy of meeting with representatives BEFORE any legislation affecting open hardware is considered.
What Wineberg and Public Knowledge are doing is fantastic. It seems inevitable that open sourcing manufacturing tools (like 3D printing) will start to cause corporations heart burn sooner or later (they are people after all). I for one really hope the community has gotten out ahead of them and demonstrated the benefits of open source before something along the lines of the RIAA emerges and tries to go after people sharing open hardware designs.
Do we really need more gatherings for people to talk about innovation? Yes. Yes we do.
Make Magazine is hosting a bunch of people to talk about, “shaping the future of manufacturing and the global economy.” Sounds good to me. A bit of hyperbole never hurt anyone.
Personally I think it would be more accurate to put “business” or “profit” somewhere in the name of the convention. As you can tell from the lineup of presenters, this is primarily a for-profit networking event.