"Yesterday marked the expiry of US Patent 5597589, "Apparatus for producing parts by selective sintering." This is one of the core patents in the 3D printing world -- the patent that allows 3D printer companies to charge more for fine nylon powder than Michelin-starred restaurants charge for filet mignon. The high cost of consumables in 3D printing has been a major barrier to innovation in the field -- selective laser sintering produces a fine finish that the patent-free fused deposition modeling technique used in Reprap-style printers can't match -- and now the brakes are coming off. "This is another example of how patents do not foster innovation and progress, but achieve exactly the opposite.
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing had the story yesterday at Key 3D printing patent expired yesterday, writing: