One of the greatest benefits of 3D printing technology - the ability to make replacements or parts for household objects like toys, utensils and gadgets - may be denied to US citizens thanks to the granting of a sweeping patent that prevents the printing of unauthorised 3D designs. It has all the makings of the much-maligned digital rights management (DRM) system that prevented copying of Apple iTunes tracks - until it was abandoned as a no-hoper in 2009.
US patent 8286236, granted on 9 October to Intellectual Ventures of Bellevue, Washington, lends a 3D printer the ability to assess whether a computer design file it's reading has an authorisation code appended that grants access for printing. If it does not, the machine simply refuses to print - whether it's a solid object, a textile or even food that's being printed.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment