Technology for 3D printing ran into its first major controversy when some enterprising gunsmiths used it to create plastic firearms. After ruffling the feathers of those who think only governments should have weapons (because governments so restrained in their use of them), 3D printing is set to create a ruckus with another group: intellectual property (IP) advocates. The technology essentially reduces a product to a CAD file, and anyone with access to a computer and a 3D printer can recreate it.
This brewing issue recalls the controversy surrounding the advent of video cassette recorders (yeah, those dinosaurs), as television and movie executives saw a bleak and profitless future thanks to viewers’ ability to record content. Similarly, MP3s have raised similar complaints from the music recording industry. But in each of these cases, companies have adapted to the new technologies and still discovered means of garnering profits. The same will likely be true of 3D printing for enterprising organizations with a vision that incorporates both consumer preferences and the presence of the technology.
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