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3D Printing: The Manufactory of Knowledge

click:175  date:2014-05-20 15:59  【Print】

People have become accustomed to creating and transmitting text, images, sound and video with technology once reserved to professionals and media production companies. But for the most part, production and delivery of three-dimensional objects remains the preserve of manufacturing plants and post offices.However, the factory is now coming within reach of the home--full circle from the cottage industries that gave rise to them in the first instance. Moreover, libraries and museums are beginning to embrace 3D technologies for archiving and collection development.
 And the widespread ability to create three-dimensional objects via technology is transforming information collection, storage and communication across a spectrum of fields.

The revolution in movable type from Gutenberg's printing press to the desktop printer has found new footing in 3D printing.Indeed, prototyping technology will open the door to the preservation of things in a variety of contexts: (1) crime scene evidence; (2) digital estates;(3) art works; (4) biologics; and (5) historical artifacts. Thus, 3-D scanning and holographic imaging will serve as new modes for collecting, storing and transmitting information.

Moreover, forensics will benefit from the addition of a third dimension to investigation and evidence building. Without a doubt, "[c]opies of physical objects could be scanned and archived for post-conviction review, forestalling the danger that the real items might become unrecoverable. The evidence room of the future might be stored on a hard drive and re-produced as needed."To be sure, the Internet of Things and 3D printing will forge a new stream of durable digital archiving that might be termed Web 4D--the fourth dimension being time. Thus, the preservation and transmission of information in three dimensions will inform and educate future generations, bringing archeology into the home through the desktop printer.1

The practice of law and the administration of justice will also have to contend with an assortment of issues generated by this added dimension in information management. And the peer to peer sharing of things and biologics will generate new challenges to the application of intellectual property, product liability and privacy rights. Indeed, courts and legislatures will be facing fundamental questions raised by this extraordinary technology: What is original?What is property? What is privacy? What is life?And what is evidence?

3D printing will likely converge and split along innovative lines such as the Internet of Everything, organic fabricating (or bioprinting), and the boundless inventions of the coming Diamond Age.Still, the consequences of this new dimension of information and communication have yet to be fully legislated.

This article collects recent legal scholarship, reports and news concentrating on the ever broadening societal applications and legal implications of 3D printing.

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