3D-Printers come to your home

3D Printing has been one of the most innovative experiences in 2014. That’s why a lot of companies specialized in printing tools chose to develop low cost 3D Printer. The fact that it is indeed a new IT market makes the innovation high on it. So, there’s a good chance to win an interesting market share, and make profit. But what will be the consequences of that, considering the Intellectual Protection (IP)?

Gothatamic  1 Oct  2011:  in New York City. Photo by Zoran Milich for LIFE.com

3D Printing, an attractive market place

This market place consists of printing devices (hardware and consumables) and dedicated or not softwares. In 2014, the market value of 3D-Printing is estimated to 3.8 billion dollars, against 2.5 billion in 2013. Although, this evolution stays small and estimates for 2018 are just incredible. 3D-Printing will indeed reach 5.4 billion dollars in 2018. This growth greatly underlines the fact that this market has an exponential growth potency.

Considering this, it seems that targeting public market is the best way to make more profit. In my opinion, consumers (like you and me) are the most vulnerable. Indeed, 3D Printing seems to become a new way to consume. We have already seen hundreds of 3D-Printing uses:

  • Medical uses (Hyperlien vers l’article de Maxime Salaun sur l’utilisation de l’impression 3D dans la médecine)
  • Professional uses
  • Private uses like small reparation by modelling and printing new specific parts, …

Moreover, you don’t really need specifics skills to use your 3D-Printer. The only things you need are a computer with a 3D Design software (generic or specific), a 3D Printer with moulding materials (consumables), and your imagination. So, the main skill you need and you can develop is the capacity to use you 3D Design software.
In consequence, the fact that you don’t need so much skills or materials lets you create what you want. If you want you can copy everything, and if you do, how creators could protect their creation? That’s why IP is so important, when you speak about 3D Printing.


Intellectual Protection (IP) and 3D Printing development, how to balance both?

            We all know the main problem about IP and 3D-Printing is the business model, which comes with both of them. When you create something, you expect that you will earn something due to your work. But, if everyone could copy your idea without paying or giving you something, what could you do?

Even if 3D-Printing is a real innovation and a new way to create and produce for artists or scientists, the low-cost of 3D-Printing lets everyone create, design or reproduce everything we want or need. That’s why we can compare this innovation to the computer in the 1970’s.

In conclusion, 3D-Printing will break our way to consume and to deal with gears. Moreover, it will change the way that we imagine business models.

Jean-Laurent Lienhardt

Etudiant du Master 2 Droit de l’économie numérique de l’Université de Strasbourg. Autoentrepreneur dans les domaines de la comptabilité et du business consulting. Impliqué dans la recherche concernant le « Crowdfunding », je tâche d’appréhender les impacts sociaux, légaux et économiques de l’usage des nouvelles technologiques…

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