3-D Printing Has a Bright Future with Dark Problems

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn., many organizations have felt compelled to react, to do something. Among those is MakerBot. The 3-D printer company announced recently that it would no longer host plans for a key assault rifle part on its Thingiverse website, which lets users upload files to make virtually anything with one of the company’s devices.

The use of 3-D printing in business has enormous possibilities, whether in manufacturing shoe parts or creating parts of the Iron Man costume for a movie. But companies in the 3-D space are learning an old lesson: new technology brings along new problems and issues.

MakerBot isn’t the first 3-D printing company to come up against the possibility of DIY gunsmithing. As recently as October 2012, commercial 3-D printer company Stratasys clashed with an online group that wanted to build its own guns. When it learned of the project, the company canceled the lease and picked up the printer.

It was only early in 2012 that MakerBot took on the consumer market. But in February, the company had added terms prohibiting the uploading of weapons-related files to its site, according to CNET.

(MORE: Will Google Escape a Federal Antitrust Lawsuit over Web Search?)

MakerBot told CNET the reason was that the file violated the website’s terms of service. And yet, the publication had asked the company about this particular issue back in August. MakerBot admitted that it always had the choice to remove the gun part but had not previously exercised it.

Often, businesses want to officially cover themselves against potential legal problems. But espousing a stance without doing anything only postpones a problem and does not solve it. And when you’re in the business of enabling people to easily make things, you have plenty of potential problems facing you.

Forget weapons, for a moment. A p.r. firm recently touted someone’s contention that 3-D printers could let people reproduce copyrighted designs. Yes, I know, it sounds like a law firm looking for a new line of work, but the possibility is actually there. Not only could 3-D printer companies face potential pressure from major brands, but those brands will now have to expand their anti-infringement activities beyond looking for factories that make knockoffs.

At what point does a 3-D printer manufacturer or service firm face liability because a consumer makes a product or part that breaks under use, possibly causing injury or damage?

The future of 3-D printing is still bright, but there are some dark clouds on the horizon, and entrepreneurs in the space will have to deal with them.

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5 comments
dontn123
dontn123

"In the wake of the shooting rampage in Newtown, Conn.,Jewish groups are looking to build alliances and back legislation to strengthen gun control laws.


A number of Jewish groups have indicated that they will back a gun control bill proposed Monday by Jewish Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the first since the Newtown shooting. It would ban more than 100 assault weapons and ammunition clips that contain more than 10 rounds.
Feinstein helped draft the last iteration of an assault weapons ban, in 1994. It lapsed in 2004, after the National Rifle Association fought against its renewal.
Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said that his group is assembling a coalition that would be ready to act once the right legislation comes along.

Saperstein told JTA in an interview. “When the parents across America start crying out for effective action, if there's religious leadership, it will galvanize the community to create the moral demand that moves toward sensible legislation.”
Staff at the RAC, the locus in the Jewish community for gun control initiatives in past decades, spent Monday reaching out to other Jewish leaders, as well as to leaders of other faith communities.
B'nai B'rith International on Monday demanded the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban.
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs circulated a petition through its constituent Jewish community relations councils that calls for "meaningful legislation to limit access to assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines, aggressive enforcement of firearm regulations."
The National Council of Jewish Women, which has also taken a leading role in the Jewish community on gun control initiatives in the past, announced its support Tuesday for the Feinstein legislation and for legislation proposed by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) that would tighten background checks. The NCJW has in the past mobilized a grassroots network of activists to push for gun control legislation. “We support her bill.”
The United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism and the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly on Monday called not only for a ban on assault weapons, but for longer purchase times, deeper background checks, coding ammunition for identification and banning online sales of ammunition.
In addition to Feinstein and Schumer, a number of other Jewish lawmakers have also weighed in. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), who in the next Congress will be the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement that “expressions of sympathy must be matched by concrete actions.”
Jewish Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), who is retiring, expressed support for an assault weapons ban and proposed a national commission on mass shootings. In addition to banning assault weapons, Jewish groups are also seeking broader initiatives to address violence.

“We will back any legislation that bans assault weapons and the ammunition as well as giving families what they need to treat individuals with a proclivity toward violence,” said Turnbull, a former vice-chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. “I think this will be the ‘big idea,’ that the president is not going to limit the conversation to just guns."
http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishNews/Article.aspx?id=296498

Why build alliances that they already have due to FAITH and ANCESTRY BACK GROUNDS? NO MORE TALK ABOUT THE NRA. How many JEWS are in these groups?

Video about ZIONIST - Jewish Gun Grabbers in America these Jews are also responsible for schools being gun free why would they do that and make schools wide open to criminals.  Why are these Jews in video killing Our Kids?:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgPZ-9Q8T4U

"The New York Times calls AIPAC "the most important organization affecting America's relationship with Israel."[4] It has been described as one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, DC. Its critics have stated it acts as an agent of the Israeli government with a "stranglehold" on the United States Congress with its power and influence “

teelabrown61
teelabrown61

Like all new tech there are some that try hard as hell to stop it. History is filled with failed attempts. 3D printing is here to stay and it will get way better as time and tech advances. It will change how things are made. There is no stopping it. Just ride the wave.

replik8tr
replik8tr

Seems like you're making a stretch to tie firearms control to 3d printing.  I would be much more worried about CNC mills than 3d printers.  

That "key assault rifle part" was a model of a lower receiver for an AR-15.  It is a complex part and includes the trigger mechanism.  Most 3d printers aren't particularly good at lots of small interconnected parts yet.  

Even if the trigger mechanism worked, you would still need the upper receiver (the top half of the rifle).  You can buy the lower receiver without a permit or license.  You must have a permit or license to buy the upper receiver.  The "key assault rifle" part is the upper, not the lower receiver.

Let's not forget that the gunman in our recent tragedy was not licensed or permitted for any of the guns he used.  He simply stole them from someone who was.

PS.  Thingiverse has restored the AR grip but not the lower receiver.


jtimpane
jtimpane

@TIME @TIMEBusiness Hi. Am writing on Twitter teasers. Yours are great. Can someone comment on Time teaser culture? I'm at jt@phillynews.com

untranslate
untranslate

@TIME @timebusiness should I print out the tech 9 with the low tops or the Mac 10 with the high tops? Sounds great to me!