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Expiring patents could revolutionize 3D printing... again

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Mataerial 640 stock press
Mataerial 640 stock press

In 2009, a round of important 3D printing patents expired, and the industry changed virtually overnight — technology previously available only to professionals started coming to machines that cost as little as a few hundred dollars. And the same kind of boom could happen again in 2014, says Christopher Mims at Quartz. Mims describes what we could see next year after a set of patents expire on a technology known as selective laser sintering (SLS), which lets printers create more sophisticated high-resolution designs. "The revolution in manufacturing that was supposed to come with cheap, desktop 3D printers hasn't materialized because, frankly, the models they produce are basically novelties," he writes. "With the expiration of patents on laser sintering 3D printing, however, all of that is about to change."