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How 3D Printer Maker Aleph Objects Pushes the Open Source Envelope

timothy posted about 9 months ago | from the catch-us-if-you-can dept.

Printer 51

Lemeowski (3017099) writes "In a time where there's a 'gold rush' for 3D printing patents, there's one company that's doing everything it can to keep its 3D printers as open as possible. Jeff Moe, CEO of Aleph Objects, said in an interview with Opensource.com that his company's strategy is 'to not patent anything, but to establish prior art as soon as we can. So when we develop things we try to push it out there as soon as possible and hope to establish prior art if there isn't prior art already. That allows us to develop a lot more quickly.' The company makes the Lulzbot 3D printers, and goes to the extreme of publishing every last detail about its printers, Moe said, including syncing its internal file system that it uses to share files on the development of the machine to the public every hour so you can see what they're doing."

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Wouldn't it be smarter... (2, Interesting)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about 9 months ago | (#46574131)

To patent and then just openly license? It would prevent others from trying to sue then if their patents were already established, rather than having to go through the process of fighting off a patent troll and attempting to establish prior art.

Re:Wouldn't it be smarter... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46574349)

So a little while ago I felt like I had a great big healthy shit coming on. I mean it makes sense. I have been adding more fiber to my diet lately. So I sat on my white porcelain throne and then ... *unghhnhhghhghh* *PLOP* Ah. Wow that was a big one. Damn it this is a big, wide, long log. It'll probably fold in half and get stuck and clog the fucking toilet. Again. Ah well. I will deal with that if and when it happens.

It was such a wide turd-log with such girth though. Amazing that my otherwise virgin asshole can expand that wide. Hmm that could be a problem. So I start to wipe. Damn it this could take a while. I got feces smeared on the sides of my ass cheeks from the girth of that turd. I wipe some more and ... oh no. I feel something knotty. Yup, what I feared from this turd has come to pass. I have lots of hairs around my asshole. I suppose most men do. Nature's way of saying "I love you! But not that much."

There it is. I can feel it through the single ply paper. A great big DINGLEBERRY. Naturally I try to awkwardly grab it with a folded sheet of toilet paper and dislodge it. I pull. Ouch. I pull harder. OUCH. Wow during its brief passage past the asshair, this turd-let really securely managed to get caught on some ass hairs. I can't just pull the dingleberry out without ripping the hairs right out. I have no idea if that caries the possibility of breaking the fecal encrusted skin and leading to an infection or what, but I know it would hurt so I want other options. I try gathering lots of sheets of toilet paper. I repeatedly wipe the same area over and over, hoping to wear this fucker down. I manage to whittle it down a little but this is taking far too much time. This turd is really determined to stay in its new home!

I can't very well pull my underpants back up now, that would get them all shitty and smelly. If I wanted to smell bad all the time I would let myself get fat. Maybe some water will help. I awkwardly reach for the faucet, turning it to a slow stream, and wet some toilet paper, making a mental note to disinfect the faucet handle later. I can't see the damned thing but judging from the brown stains appearing on the sheets of toilet paper, I am at least making progress. Now my hands are wet and shitty smelling and I am thinking this better be worth it. I use a dry sheet to feel for the dingleberry again. It did shrink but it's still there, dangling from my ass hairs, mocking me. WTF have I been eating lately to produce such a persistent turd? Nature does abhor a vacuum, which is why lots of gas has entered my bowels where the big turd-log recently was. I enjoy a nice after-defecating loud fart while I wonder what to do next. I chuckle because when the fart is your own, you don't think it stinks but you know somebody else would evacuate the area. Ok time to stop laughing, this is a serious predicament.

I toy with the idea of getting some scissors or something to try and cut the dingleberry out. Then I consider this is a sensitive area, I cannot see what I am doing, and it's too close for comfort to my cock and balls to be wielding a bladed item. I am starting to get angry. I am starting to not care anymore about the consequences of just yanking the damned thing out. I tried the easier ways and they failed. Fuck it, I have places to be and things to do. I can't very well spend all day in the bathroom playing a not-so-fun game with a turd. I double up on toilet paper and get a good secure grip on the dingleberry. Okay fucker, you're going DOWN. *YANK* Yeouch, fuck that hurt as much as I thought it would. And there it is, in my hand, nestled in the folds of toilet paper: my dingleberry! Ha ha ha, you won the battle, dingleberry, but I just won the war! I rub my sore ass cheek. Then I ceremoniously plop that fucker in the toilet bowl, to briefly swim with his big brother log. Oh man, you never heard such a satisfying flushing sound in your life. I rub some aftershave around my ass hairs just to make sure, better to smell funny than to get some kind of infected pimples or something.

I was careful. But not careful enough. Never careful enough. It was no trivial task to scrub the fecal matter completely off my hands and especialy, from under my fingernails. I find it useful to use a bar of soap and dig my nails in it. Repeatedly. I think all the turd particles are gone now. If I eat with my hands and get sick later I will at least know why, but it hopefully will be okay. Man. What an ordeal. Anyone who ever fought against a dingleberry knows how persistently they can cling to life next to your asshole.

So I watch this mixture of feces and paper swirl around the flushing toilet bowl. Sure enough, the very middle of the log gets sucked toward the drain. Not good, not good. It folds in half and the two halves at once is too wide to fit through the toilet. Great. Now my toilet is clogged. But the water continues to rise. Oh man, this doesn't look good. Quick, where the fuck did I put my plunger?!

... the saga continues ...

Re:Wouldn't it be smarter... (1, Flamebait)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 9 months ago | (#46574355)

Patenting costs real money. This "company" sounds like a bunch of idealistic kids working out of a basement somewhere. I seriously doubt a company that names their product "Lulzbot"has the money to pay staff salaries, much less hire a patent attorney.

Re:Wouldn't it be smarter... (3, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 9 months ago | (#46574375)

Another reason why the patent system is broken. Only large companies can afford to hire a patent attorney and actually be granted a patent. Little guys, who really need the protections, can't get patents anyway.

Re:Wouldn't it be smarter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46574447)

Yep. Yet another way the big corps maintain control and keep the little guys from nudging in with any innovation.

Re:Wouldn't it be smarter... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46575317)

From an email I just received from my CTO:

"...must be in agreement on the technical and business soundness of applying for the patent, which will cost the company approximately $20,000-$30,000, or more, for filing fees, lawyer fees, and labor for our staff."

I knew the little guys could never come out ahead in patent disputes, but I didn't realize the up-front fees were so high too.

Re:Wouldn't it be smarter... (3, Interesting)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 9 months ago | (#46574475)

I seriously doubt a company that names their product "Lulzbot"has the money to pay staff

Well it's certainly easier to criticise on the internet than bother to do any actual research. Aleph is apparently hiring right now. Those are real jobs which come with actual salaries. In other words, take your silly, stuffy attitude and shove it. Meanwhile, I'll continue to happily use the excellent LulzBot at the hackspace I'm a member of.

Meanwhile in the real world, there are plenty of people who don't require products to have "serious" "businessy" names in order to use them. You're probably one of the people who complain about the GIMP as well. I've not met a single person who didn't use it because of the name either.

Re:Wouldn't it be smarter... (1)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 9 months ago | (#46574549)

Well, in that case, the OP had a valid criticism. They're pretty stupid to not be filing for patents (since they're rolling in the phat cash and all). When someone else grabs all the patents up and hits them with a lawsuit tsunami, I doubt there will be many lulz to be had. Prior art is a piss-poor defense against a real patent onslaught (just ask Samsung).

Re:Wouldn't it be smarter... (4, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 9 months ago | (#46574693)

They're pretty stupid to not be filing for patents (since they're rolling in the phat cash and all)

So apparently the two options are "so poor they can't pay staff" and "rolling in the phat cash".

Let me introduce you to the radical notion that they might have enough cash to pay staff and grow, but only if they don't waste wads of "the phat cash" at a time on patents.

Prior art is a piss-poor defense against a real patent onslaught (just ask Samsung).

So is owning patents. Just because you have a patent on part of your machine, doesn't mean someone else might not also have a patent on another part of it. Even if you own patents, you're right back to having to use prior art or a settlement if you're attacked. The point of amassing patents is so you can counter-sue if you're sued. If you're attacked by (a) a patent troll or (b) someone rich, you're fucked either way.

Re:Wouldn't it be smarter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46574531)

Good job nobody is queuing up to give credence to anything you have to say on... well, anything really :)

Re:Wouldn't it be smarter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46574567)

AC's questioning credence! Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria!

The Basement (5, Informative)

Yeb (7194) | about 9 months ago | (#46575065)

NotDrWho,

We are definitely not working in our basement, though we did start in mine 3+ years ago. Gizmag visited our current facility recently. You can check out their tour here:

http://www.gizmag.com/tour-ale... [gizmag.com]

We definitely pay salaries too. In fact, we're set up with a Professional Employers Organization, Insperity. We offer healthcare to 22 employees, along with the other standard benefits.

We're not (all) kids either. My slashdot account is getting close to 18 years old even. ;) Our staff, advisors, and board of directors includes people with their signature on Mars for components they designed, the former Director of Engineering of Seagate (wrap your mind around the complexity of that for a minute), a major former HP exec responsible for $18 billion/year, the former Director of Finance of Digital Globe (Google Maps), and the chair of the Debian Technical Committee.

Also, our patent attorney has won billion dollar (with a "B") patent cases. He's no slouch. :) Plus we work with EFF, Harvard Cyberlaw, Public Knowledge, and other groups to push back against patents in 3D printing and patents in general.

I've spoken about it at length with our US Congressman Jared Polis (he invited me to a patent workshop too) and two of his potential rivals in November. I spoke briefly about it with US Senator Michael Bennet when he visited. So we're working on it at the political layer too.

Just sayin'...

-Jeff Moe, Aleph Objects, Inc. CEO

Re:The Basement (2)

g4sy (694060) | about 9 months ago | (#46575897)

Hey thanks for being cool. My business has recently gotten to the point where I don't have time to make a reprap and probably do have the money to buy a top-end consumer printer but I have refused to give a penny of my money to Bre Pettis.So I'll probably be buying a TAZ 3.0 to start.

It sounds like you have a cool team and I hope you can keep them reminded that in the long run your vision and goals will pay off much better in the long run compared to pulling a Bre and being a total dick. I'm just so fucking happy that he and Makerbot and Stratysys never got a penny of my money. There are a lot of guys like me in major centres around the world who grew up on linux and gcc and RMS who are becoming cash rich and time poor, especially since there are so fucking few companies to give our money to. I just bought 3 jollas for laughs and giggles and they would certainly have more of my custom if they were actually pushing for open hardware. Neo900 has a lot of my money and they will get more in the coming year.

So there's a lot of money to be made in open hardware, if you're able to convince your board members and investors etc to continue being patient. The word will get out. You will have the last laugh. Bre Pettis will be an anathema for years to come and Moe will be a name up there with Torvalds, if you keep with the attitude it seems you portray.

TAZ (1)

Yeb (7194) | about 9 months ago | (#46576585)

Yes, get a TAZ! :)

https://www.lulzbot.com/produc... [lulzbot.com]

I've done a lot of things to make sure that the company stays free & open. Firstly, by making myself the final word (for now). Per our bylaws, I can only be removed from the company by court order. :)

The board of directors is me, Steven (long time employee, very much for free/open), and Bdale Garbee (very hardcore netgod of free software development). We will only have people on the board that are already 100% on board with free software. So we have another layer of protection there.

The non-libre folks that are very technically savvy that we have on board have influence in how things are done, but they don't have the final say. Though they are still on board with us running a libre company. Even if they earned their chops during the 80s (or earlier), they can see the huge growth in open systems. They just don't have direct experience in free software.

Then ultimately who gets to say what a company does is the owners. Most high tech high growth companies are angling to get bought out, get a lot of venture capital, and/or go public. This is usually the founders' "exit", where they get the pile of cash. When that happens, the company is likely to absorb the traditional non-libre practices of the parent company.

We are taking a different approach. If we can pull this all together, the idea is to convert Aleph Objects, Inc. into an ESOP (employee stock ownership plan). This means we don't have to be beholden to outsiders. It also allows the current owners an exit, in that they sell their stock to the ESOP. There are a lot of other advantages to ESOPs. The earliest we can decide whether to go for it or not would be December 2015, which we could make retroactive to January 2015. ESOPs are complicated.

I used to hack on the N900 too...
http://wiki.maemo.org/User:Jeb... [maemo.org]

Re:The Basement (1)

sixoh1 (996418) | about 9 months ago | (#46575967)

Thanks for the check in Jeff - sorry for the trolls....

Back to the original OP topic of patents - Do you think that Colorado's congressional delegation is any more informed about the destructive effect of poor patents on this market? I know they have certainly made hay of having you in their districts as a sign of their super-fantastic "stewardship" of Colorado's industrial relevance.

delegation (2)

Yeb (7194) | about 9 months ago | (#46576351)

Np, I can handle trolls. This thread has been surprisingly lucid, actually. ;)

Colorado's 2nd Congressional district is represented by Congressman Jared Polis. This district includes Boulder, Fort Collins, and Loveland (where we are). Polis and his family started bluemountain.com and made out with hundreds of millions of dollars during the 1990s dotcom boom. So he's probably the only dotcom millionaire in Congress and probably the only congressman that could set up Apache. ;) He is well informed on patent issues, is actively trying to find a solution to the present conundrum, and is more than happy to listen to the free/libre/open crowd.

I haven't spoken to the other Congressmen about patents yet, but I will likely speak with Cory Gardner of the 4th district in the next couple months if I get the chance (we'll be at some of the same meetings).

I spoke to two of Polis' potential election challengers. Neither of them knew particularly much about free/libre/open as far as I could tell, but they both seemed more than happy to learn about it. I will try to get them to visit our facility and give them the full show. They are definitely for reforming the system though--they can see it is broken. My brief argument is that we're stuck with a 19th century system in the 21st century. Plus I hammer home that even if we follow strict patent rules, the rest of the world isn't (e.g. China), so we're just hamstringing American companies by holding back their innovation with patents. That line of argument is a huge winner with politicians, btw...

Re:The Basement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46576995)

Errr, how is your slashdot account close to 18 years old if you're member # is #46575065?!?!

Re:The Basement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46577015)

I'm a noob. Your member # is 7194.

Re:Wouldn't it be smarter... (1)

fermion (181285) | about 9 months ago | (#46574789)

It would be better. It works for copyright because there is no process to go through.

The patent system is broken because it is becoming like copyright, in the sense the no physical object or specific implementation is needed, but there is still an expensive process to get a patent. If it were simple as saying, hey everyone can use this but if you do and make it public all improvements have to be made public as well, that would be great. But there is no way to enforce that. The only thing to do is hope the patent office honors prior art.

But others are right. We do need foundations that are dedicated to paying for patents that are then openly licensing. Of course the foundation would then need armies of lawyers to defend the patents.

The real fix is severely limit the things that can be patented.

patent then open (2)

Yeb (7194) | about 9 months ago | (#46575173)

The problem with the "patent now and open later" approach is that it then takes "forever" to get a product to market. If you throw a year or two away just waiting for the patent, you've lost a lot of time. Also, it means the development of the product has to be done in secret, so there is no community development process available. We would rather publish early & often. :)

SPAM (1, Offtopic)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 9 months ago | (#46574145)

Is upvoting SPAM the new entertainment in Slashdot?

What's next? "3D print your penis larger"? "Bitcoin yourself to success in 5 days"? "Lose 15 pounds with the secret method the NSA doesn't want you to know"?

Why are all my sentences questions?

All for not... (1)

SirAstral (1349985) | about 9 months ago | (#46574153)

Remember now first to file not first to invent.

They already pretty much ignore Prior Art.

Yay? How?

Re:All for not... (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 9 months ago | (#46574315)

Yes, but that would be in a patent dispute. Where 2 parties were arguing over who owned a patent. If one party were arguing that there was NO patent because they had prior art... I'm not sure how that would go. Patent lawyers? I know you're out there... what say you?

Re:All for not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46574607)

Guy with the best lawyers wins. And, in practice, prior art almost never wins.

Re:All for not... (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 9 months ago | (#46574651)

It would be relevant in any patent dispute including alleged infringement. Even with first-to-invent, claiming the existence of prior art didn't protect you in any way until you worked through the court system to have a judge/jury validate your claim. Nothing changes in that regard with first-to-file. The lawyers will get paid no matter what.

Re:All for not... (1)

SirAstral (1349985) | about 9 months ago | (#46574857)

http://www.uspto.gov/aia_imple... [uspto.gov]
Based on what I read there is a 1 year grace period where prior art is null and void so... if You invented on January 1st 2014 someone has until December 31st 2014 to file (before you) and take your invention.

Then there is the possible "lost paperwork" that several bigger businesses would be happy to "pay" persons of low integrity in USPTO to "accidentally" lose so theirs can be considered FIRST.

USPTO is a paid WHORE for big corp. Power is nice, but NOTHING beats what people will do for money.

Prior art always fails. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46574169)

There's an "iPad" in 2001: A Space Odyssey, but Apple got the patent anyway. Big companies will always defeat prior art.

Re:Prior art always fails. (1)

westlake (615356) | about 9 months ago | (#46574767)

There's an "iPad" in 2001: A Space Odyssey, but Apple got the patent anyway.

Kubrick's collaborator on "2001," the science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, called the device in the story a "Newspad," and in the book version of "2001" described how a user "would conjure up the world's major electronic papers; he knew the codes of the more important ones by heart, and had no need to consult the list on the back of his pad." He went on: punch in the code for a story and "the postage-stamp-size rectangle would expand until it neatly filled the screen and he could read it in comfort."

Stanley Kubrick Envisioned the iPad in '2001,' Says Samsung [go.com] [August 2011]

There are big problems in claiming the design of a theatrical prop as prior art. The prop can be nothing more than a glued-on frame disguising a rear projection screen. The IPad case. however aesthetically pleasing, still has to be a practical, real-world, design for a tablet computer.

Re:Prior art always fails. (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 9 months ago | (#46576281)

Except that falls down entirely when it comes to patents for aesthetics and user interfaces - in which case, the existence of a prop depicting the interface, or someone describing it in fiction, has exactly as much standing as it's implementation. The idea was clearly out there - but it was not pursued until a later time.

If the argument is "oh but it wasn't technically feasible before now" well, that's still a very different patent defense. But it doesn't accomplish the goals of the usual litigants so no one really bothers with it.

Quick Aleph! (2)

fabioalcor (1663783) | about 9 months ago | (#46574183)

Please, hurry, do prior art for the following "patents":
3D printing... ... with computers. ... without computers. ... over the internet. ... with a mobile device. ... with a smartwatch. ... for children. ... for elderly. ... wireless. ... through SMS. ... using XML.
[insert yours obvious patents here]

Investment (0)

h4x0t (1245872) | about 9 months ago | (#46574195)

Did DICE recently invest in 3D printing stock or what?

Because, that'll work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46574247)

Because we all know how the arguments of prior art have worked for everyone else... oh wait, they haven't.

More please! (3, Informative)

sixoh1 (996418) | about 9 months ago | (#46574257)

It certainly helps Aleph that the original FDM patent has expired so at least they aren't under immediate assault. On the other hand it is worrisome that they have to think so hard about the "prior art" aspect - is that really what the open source actions is about? If so I'm skeptical that this is a valid solution since the current regime of patentability (I'm looking at you software patents) means there is plenty of danger for them in the dependent/follow-on patents that Stratasys has filed. Lots of necessary and related improvements to the FFF/FDM process are "obvious" if you are building a machine to be useful for additive manufacturing, but USPTO does not use that approach to determining patentability. The worse bit is that if one takes the time to actually dig into the PTO database looking for other's patents, and trying to "work around" - you might be open to contributory infringement (at least stateside), so most folks actively ignore the PTO database to prevent such skeletons. That means LESS information sharing rather than more...

On the gripping hand, I'm happy to see Aleph using the lessons of the software world as a viable business model - forget the 3D printer part. All electronics hardware businesses should be able to follow this model if they are willing - the end result for human productivity, creativity and technological advancement seems inevitable. Assuming Patents are somehow overcome as an obstacle (and for example here we can assume that BRICS nations will take up the flags if US based companies like Aleph are strangled by patents), what else stands in the way of getting more hardware companies to act like Aleph?

My suspicion, having worked in electronics manufacturing for 20+ years is that hardware companies are mostly run by old-line (80s and 90s era) engineers, who cling to privacy, NDAs, trade-secret, etc. by force of habit and comfort. Having spent years coaching my last company about the benefits of open-source (both hardware and software) to naught, I'm betting we won't see more of these kinds of firms until more CEOs die and retire...

Re:More please! (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 9 months ago | (#46574545)

My suspicion, having worked in electronics manufacturing for 20+ years is that hardware companies are mostly run by old-line (80s and 90s era) engineers, who cling to privacy, NDAs, trade-secret, etc. by force of habit and comfort. Having spent years coaching my last company about the benefits of open-source (both hardware and software) to naught, I'm betting we won't see more of these kinds of firms until more CEOs die and retire...

It has been fun watching these companies crash into the reality of Android and etc. The lawyers throw an utter shitfit over the GPL and LGPL because they're basically ignorant, arse covering and have no incentive for the company they work for to do well. Of course any native development on Android uses GCC (hello GPL! and GPL'd runtime) and any use of Webkit pretty much invokes the LGPL.

Re:More please! (2)

Princeofcups (150855) | about 9 months ago | (#46574831)

My suspicion, having worked in electronics manufacturing for 20+ years is that hardware companies are mostly run by old-line (80s and 90s era) engineers, who cling to privacy, NDAs, trade-secret, etc. by force of habit and comfort. Having spent years coaching my last company about the benefits of open-source (both hardware and software) to naught, I'm betting we won't see more of these kinds of firms until more CEOs die and retire...

That sounds like a rather unique company, since most are run by MBAs who have no engineering knowledge and are only interested in the current hot trend to make money in the short term. Or maybe your company isn't in the US?

Re:More please! (1)

sixoh1 (996418) | about 9 months ago | (#46575719)

Nope, US based. While the "CEO"s are usually MBAs, in many companies from Intel on down the real decision makers of whether things get open sourced are engineers who have climbed the ladder. Think "VP of Engineering", "VP of Product Development" - these are the folks that usually crush open source movements within established firms... "because". They don't understand open source, they didn't do it that way in the 80s, and no amount of argument will convince them otherwise. Add in a corporate legal counsel who wants to be a CFO or CEO and you get "opinions" that GPL is unenforceable and contrary to shareholder interest.

MBAs are actually _easier_ to convince that open source can work since they are more likely to be swayed by graphs and slide ware - tell them "RedHat is doing it" or "Google does it" and they queue up to join the party...

years (1)

Yeb (7194) | about 9 months ago | (#46575155)

One patent lawyer for a major company mentioned that she saw all the older guys were all proud of their patents and showed them off, but the young engineers just cringed at the mention of patents and wanted nothing to do with them.

Re:years (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 9 months ago | (#46575255)

The old guys are from when patents were a sign of true innovation and achievement. The new guys are from an era when the optimal policy for most businesses is to file for everything they possibly can to build up a portfolio, most of which are for obvious trivialities like rounded corners or 'x, on a computer.'

Re:years (1)

sixoh1 (996418) | about 9 months ago | (#46575763)

If you have ever been to the HP (now Agilent) facility here in Colorado Springs, you can walk the graveyard of literally bulldozed cubicles, behind the remaining old cube farm walls. On the walkways are thousands of plaques with US Patent numbers and inventors. The inventors are gone, their cubes are piled like trash, and the shell of the old company exists as not much more than a US based front for a Penang Maylasia based manufacturing outfit with an ever shrinking number of US "engineers" designing more and more expensive systems for fewer and fewer clients every year.

I don't think the Patents have actually resulted in real "advancement of human progress"...

There isn't much to 'patent' available (1)

LetterRip (30937) | about 9 months ago | (#46574669)

Most of the important patents are expired, the technology is taking off due to a combination of the relevant patents expiring and Moores law driving down the cost of key components.

Re:There isn't much to 'patent' available (1)

sixoh1 (996418) | about 9 months ago | (#46575823)

"Important" is meaningless in the eyes of the law - think "swipe to unlock" lawsuits between Apple and Samsung. ANY infringement can bollox your nice little innovative startup and crush novel products. Component costs are not now, nor have they ever been the barrier to innovation, if that was the case then we should be seeing a massive wave of innovation coming from China, Thiland and Maylasia. Instead most of it is still coming from Taiwan and California.

Capital (human and cash) is the real driver, and currently capital is captive to the legal fiction of the value and necessity of Patents - aka "IP Rights". The OP and Aleph's CEO's comments above are very nice to see efforts to break the stranglehold, but its pretty thin gruel to assume one company in Loveland Colorado is going to topple the billions of IPO dollars sloshing around SFO/SJC area chasing and perpetuating the artificial monopolies created by the USPTO.

3D printing very old (2)

iggymanz (596061) | about 9 months ago | (#46574779)

I used to be in CADD/CAM, 3D printing and other means of extruding 3D objects under control of computer is more than two decades old. nothing new with these recent cheap printers other than cheap price, and there are cooler techs that allow you to make objects out of *gasp* real metal! some work with powders as feedstock, others solutions......but the point is this is old, old hat other than now hobbyists on a budget get to play at the very shallow end of the pool (which is fine)

Re:3D printing very old (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46575197)

3D printer hipster over here.

Re:3D printing very old (1)

sixoh1 (996418) | about 9 months ago | (#46575911)

While the concept is "old", the actual technology in use here is hardly "old hat". FDM/FFF itself was stillborn as a product from Stratasys mostly due to the extremely high cost of entry - I have clients that purchased systems from Stratasys 15 years ago, and they are far more excited and anxious to use the capabilities of the new-market FFF systems because the vibrant and competitive market from non-commercial RepRap and all of the commercial spin offs like Aleph is putting a significant number of new eyeballs and creative developers into the mix.

The point is precisely that any technology, no matter how capable, will be under utilized and see limited functionality if it is only allowed to be used by a single company - think Unix at AT&T/Bell in 1960 vs. *Nix in 2010 in phones, cars, elevators, watches, glasses, power plants, airplanes, battle tanks, space craft, and 3D printers.

Re:3D printing very old (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 9 months ago | (#46577515)

what?

I'm talking about the tech manufacturers used in the mid 90s for making real things and rapid prototypes.

not about hobbyist toys for making Yoda heads or other artsy-fartsy

Re:3D printing very old (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 9 months ago | (#46577605)

just for example, powder metal laser sintering for making "soft tools" (dies, etc.) and even working metal engine parts for prototypes was mature tech two decades ago. Been there, did that.

Re:3D printing very old (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46576701)

Holy crap! No whey! Are you from the future?

Worth a look (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46575355)

I'll definitely be taking a look at these guys instead of Makerbot for my next one.

Aleph Objects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46576067)

Who is Aleph and to what does he object? (Apologies to Sir Humphrey Appleby.)

What good does this do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46576659)

Jeff Moe, CEO of Aleph Objects, said in an interview with Opensource.com that his company's strategy is 'to not patent anything, but to establish prior art as soon as we can.

And what good does this do? The patent office and US courts have already shown time and time again that they don't care about prior art. Remember, the USA is now first to file.

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