2015 February SXSWorld


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S X S W. C O M | F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 5 | S X S W o r l d 1 3 2009, the first commercially available 3-D printer — in kit form and based on the RepRap concept – was offered for sale. "If you go back 10 years, 3-D printers were very expen- sive and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars," says Joshua Pearce, an academic engineer at Michigan Technological University, who is an expert in 3-D printing. "It's in a hot state of evolution right now—the printing parameters, speed, resolution and quality have all improved rapidly. In the last few years, open source design has become a uni- versal collaborative project. Crucially, it is now gaining traction in the developing world, where high value items such as water filters can be produced for low cost." The technology might have evolved, but there is an increasing need for legislation and regulation to accommo- date the seismic shifts that this new industrial revolution has sparked. The question of who profits, and how, from all of this collaboration is still unanswered. Some critics wonder whether open source design could be eroding the ties between intellectual property and value, and effectively doing to designers what the Internet did to music and journalism? "It doesn't make much sense to patent a cellphone when I could walk to Walmart, snap a few pictures of one, regenerate that design and then print one out at home," explains Pearce. "We also need to address the question of regulation from a societal standpoint and look at how best to protect the public with some rational laws. "For example, if you print out the blueprint for a drinking cup for your child, and it fails and the child chokes, who is to blame? Is it your fault, or the person who designed the cup? Is it the plastic manufac- turer, or the 3-D printer firm? The technology is already in place, we just need to move the laws forward." It is very much a live debate, and one at which MoMA and Antonelli are at the center. She recently made her first "open source acquisi- tion" in the shape of the @ symbol, which is now represented with a supersized version on one of the museum's walls. While she accepts that it cannot technically be acquired because it belongs to everyone, she describes it as a "beam connecting the museum to the sharing economy." "The debate over intellectual property is almost like a religious standoff," says Antonelli. "Some people believe that copyright should disappear, and some people believe it is essential to creativity. They are two opposing political stances. I also don't think there is any point of resolution to this dilemma about the morality of the 3-D printed gun. These are going to be the debates that define open source design in the next few decades." R O B I N H O L L A N D Pa ola A n to n el l i w il l b e t h e SX S W I n te r a c t i ve Key n ote s p e a ke r o n Fri d ay , M a rch 13 a t 2p m , in E x hib it H a l l 5 of t h e A u s t i n C o nve n t io n C e n te r.

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