Jul 27, 2016 | By Tess

For those who have scoured the internet for a comprehensive set of regulations and tips for 3D designing and 3D printing but have consistently come up short, a recently launched website might be just the thing you were looking for. The website, called 3D Printing Info: Everything you need to get started in 3D printing, is the product of extensive research compiled by a team of staff from the University of Melbourne. And its purpose is essentially guide new 3D printing users and aspiring makers through the rights and responsibilities that surround the additive manufacturing technologies.

The website was an effort by the School of Culture and Communications at the University of Melbourne and the project was led by Dr. Luke Heemsbergen and Dr. Robbie Fordyce, who were driven by the goal of offering consumers and makers a comprehensive and accessible guide to both take advantage of 3D printing technologies and its potentials and to keep work and intellectual property safe.

The online guide consists of a number of different sections, which include a scorecard to help users determine which 3D printing website it best suited for them and their needs; a “Rights and Responsibilities” section which lays out privacy, copyright, patent, and other safety information relevant to 3D printing; a step-by-step guide to learning to 3D print; as well as a resource section to facilitate further education about 3D printing technologies.

Dr. Heemsbergen, who has focused his research on the intersection of technology and the political, explains in a press release, “The free resources are the result of extensive multidisciplinary research in Australia, and beyond, that identified emerging issues and trends within the consumer 3D printing space such as who owns the designs you share, the ones you modify and how they can be used by others.”

To compile the extensive online guide, the team of researchers combined information from a number of different sources, including expert interviews, academic research, and data analyses from various 3D printing file websites. From there, they conducted a number of focus groups to see what questions still arose for people about 3D printing. Through them they discovered that people who were interested in 3D printing still had a lot of unanswered questions and uncertainties, such as what the laws surrounding 3D prints and files are, where to find good designs and 3D printing files, how much to pay for a 3D printer, and where to learn more.

“3D printing is a social practice that is built on a specific set of technologies, how people 3D print, what they print, and how society understands and decides this becomes a social and political concern,” explained Dr. Heemsbergen. “Worrying about copyright and other Intellectual Property Rights is necessary, but not sufficient—there are ethical, cultural and social aspects of what we made that tell us who we are as a society.”

Robbie Fordyce and Luke Heemsbergen

With their recently launched website, the Australia-based team of researchers are hoping to offer users and interested parties a free and easy-to-use platform to learn more about 3D printing services, laws and regulations surrounding the technology, and where to find more in depth information.

Dr. Fordyce added, “We are used to viewing things—anything and everything—out in cyberspace, but when that barrier breaks down, and the digital is made physical in your own home, people have new concerns.” By launching the website, he is hoping to illuminate these concerns and offer solutions to them through learning.

The research and website were funded by the Australian Consumer Communications Action Network (ACCAN) Grants project.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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