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O’Reilly Solid discusses building the future with 3D printing

O’Reilly Solid hosted a discussion on 3D printing as part of its IoTChat, an informative sometimes quirky, and always hilarious discussion on where technology is going, and what it means for all of us.

One of the first topics was how 3D printers were able to print ever more-complicated forms. The following figurines were printed: the level of detail on all of these is stunning, and representative of a 3D printing movement that is embracing art as much as it is embracing science.

3D figurines from @polysculpture with code(love)

3D figurines from @polysculpture with code(love)

The entire conversation resonated with potential. Applications ranging as wide as printing out houses, to the possibility of printing out biological organs, were discussed.

The intersection between technology and society, ever more potent, was facing one of its most challenging clashes, with the concept of intellectual property holding quite a bit of time in the discussion.  With templates for many basic products already circulating around the Internet,, there was a sense that the future of 3D printing would be based on openness, though some pointed out digital rights management systems that could rein the potential of 3D printing back for the sake of monetization.

This discussion sparked for me a vision of a 3D printing economy that worked similarly to the economy revolving around web components: great, free open-source templates, but you would have to pay a bit if you weren’t able to build things yourself: you’d pay for somebody else to ease the process for you or to build something perfectly tailored for your needs instead of the general open-source templates.

Ideas bounced around freely in this vein. There were a lot of really cool 3D printing applications, including a father who had 3D printed out a hand for his son without fingers, to custom-printed tracheas (windpipes) that were CT-scanned and could be used for customized medicine.

A new 3D printed hand with code(love)

A new 3D printed hand with code(love)

It gave me some inspiration to envision a Skype-like platform where instead of just sending emoticons, one could click a button and send a friend a gift printed out of their 3D printer: a future way to share on the Internet.

The next IoTChat is going to be May 15th, at 1 PM PST/4 PM EST with a live stream of O’Reilly Solid’s keynote livestream, and it promises to be as inspiring as this one was. Check the tag #IoTChat for the full conversation.