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Marketplace Morning Report

The brave new world of 3D printing

Molly Wood Nov 29, 2010
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We’re joined in this show by Jonathan Zittrain. He’s the co-founder and co-director of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. He’s also a professor in the law school and computer sciences departments at Harvard. So, you know, smart guy. We call upon Jonathan from time to time to help us wrap our heads around big notions, like 3D printing.

There are 3D printers currently on the market. They’re incredibly expensive and are mostly used to fabricate models for engineers out of plastic. But now that the technology is in place, it has ample opportunity to improve and diversify. If some molecular material can be built in, we’d see the ability to print just about anything– clothes, bikes, electronics– using a printer and some blueprints. Jonathan mentions a robot that could have a printer built into it that would allow it to print duplicates of itself. Then each of those robots could print more duplicates.

Jonathan says there are many implications to this kind of world, not the least of which being the question of who has the right to reproduce an object. And how are those rights enforced?

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