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Thursday
Nov192009

Digital Designs in iTunes?

When Mark Frauenfelder was asked to think of an imaginary future Apple product, he came up with a 3D printer in full Apple style, glossy and sleek.

I've always imagined that someday soon, everyone will have a 3D printer at home. Mark's vision of the Apple-y future really shook me up and made me think about how designs circulate. In the future Mark posits, designs could be like songs, or iPhone apps in iTunes.

"To create a product, you visit the iTunes Store to choose from among tens of thousands of product designs--prices range from free to $9.99--purchasing one just as you would a song, video, or app. The 3D data is sent to the iMake, which builds the parts, layer by layer, out of high-quality plastic. The iMake will also make the circuit boards. Then, all you do is snap the pieces together! After purchasing a 3D model from the iTunes Store, it takes about 15 minutes to print a 3D part."

Imagining a digital design branch of iTunes unsettled me, because one of the main focuses of the current DIY 3D printing movement is to be open source--and focus on sharing ideas and designs freely. The collective goal is to build out a large library of digital objects that anyone can download, modify, customize and share.

Should designs be free? It's really a provocative question. Would designers be more motivated to create designs if they could make money off of them?

I'm really curious to hear what you think about this in the comments! And, thanks to Mark for the thought-provoking vision of the future!

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Reader Comments (11)

My first thought was, "MakerBot + Chrome plating?"

My second thought is: Designs will follow the same path as other digital content: much of it will be free, some of it illegally so, but it won't be practicable to police this, so companies that adopt a soft-edged ownership policy around designs will do better than ones that try to bludgeon users into buying into obsolete cost models.

But more to the point, there will be an explosion of creativity in the part of the market that isn't charging any money. People will design their own things and share them with friends. The Free part of the market will bustle with activity, the lowered-cost part will thrive, and the parts that refuse to adopt a new pricing structure will wither and die. I think we've heard this song before in the music industry, and in many ways this revolution is going to look like the last one.

Nov 19 | Unregistered CommenterAllan Ecker

Well, I think that if at home fabrication does become a big thing and there is money to be made, that the major corporations are going to sink there pocket into it. (as they do with many things :)
I also think that they will never make a major profit in selling the designs ( unless it is uber complex, or things such as electronics) they will mostly engineer new printable machines (which probably won't be open source :( but everything is hackable if you put your mind to it right :) .I think this because if I want a spoon, then I can make it myself with the many free softwares that are out there or I could find one at Thingaiverse to print,so I wouldn't have to buy the design.If the Diy community continues to do what it is doing now, I don't think that any company will have a monopoly on printable designs.

Thanks,
E.B.


P.S.
There will always be designers that would be more motivated to do something for money and then there are those who like to do designs for fun,themselves or others.

Nov 19 | Unregistered CommenterE.B.

I think that objects will eventually sort themselves into free and non free tiers. For instance, I think that certain objects that replace expensive ones normally will have a free version, and a version which is ultra refined and people charge money for. A two tier system works pretty well by that basis, especially when buying would cost so much. As a case in point for replacing expensive things, when I designed the reprapable/makerbottable sex toy moulds(which isn't on thinigverse due to your no dirty stuff rule) I probably could have done way more work on it to perfect it, but I didn't have time. Most likely if I'd been paid a bit I could have perfected them and developed and pushed the designs into the areas (no pun intended) where they would be viable as replacements for the normally expensive ones instead of the primitive point I left it at.

the design looks awsome but i personaly think that designs should be free and open scource so that way if you like something u can get it somewhare like thingiverse and if u need to u change a bit of it but if it was in something like itunes u would have to buy it and u wouldnt be able to change it so id keep it free

I think Mark was referencing iTunes/Apple iPhone App store for this reason. Follow the App store path (without design authorization crap! Just a simple UX and easy to pay/download system) - some are free, some are paid. The designer/customer/maker universe decides.

Nov 20 | Unregistered CommenterGary

A two tier system works pretty well by that basis, güncel dizi especially when buying would cost so much. As a case in point for replacing expensive things, when I designed the dizi izle reprapable/makerbottable sex toy moulds

modelleri

Mar 1 | Unregistered Commenterlocke
I think that objects will eventually sort themselves into free and non free tiers. For instance, I think that certain objects that replace expensive ones normally will have a free version, and a version which is ultra refined and people charge money for. A two tier system works pretty well by that basis, especially when buying would cost so much. As a case in point for replacing expensive things, when I designed the reprapable/makerbottable sex toy moulds(which isn't on thinigverse due to your no dirty stuff rule) I probably could have done way more work on it to perfect it, but I didn't have time. Most likely http://www.gebzem.net if I'd been paid a bit I could have perfected them and developed and pushed the designs into the areas (no pun intended) where they would be viable as replacements for the normally expensive ones instead of the primitive point I left it at.
Mar 1 | Unregistered Commenterhanry
Digital technology and its impact in the market increasing a overwhelming manner that providing so many different kinds of experience to the people. I think it is just a cherry on the top for the technical machinery world. iTunes being developed from a long time and it is used by various companies as well as different well known peoples. Digital technology now added to the iTunes technology and its environment that putting better impact to the technical world. I would like to use this service to know all its impact.
Digital technology is growing rapidly with new inventions everyday. One of the inventions is the 3D printer, it provides the three-dimensional solid object of any shape from a digital model. It is used in prototyping and distributed manufacturing with applications in architecture, construction, design, automotive, engineering etc. 3D systems provide great technology and the choice in 3Dprinting. In 3D printing the printed stuff looks like the real one and hence it improves the visible quality. Most of the big players of this segment have already produced 3D printers and are doing well in industry. But the quality of printed photograph also depends on the kind of raw material used. Hence whether you are using 2D or 3D printer choosing the right raw material is very important.
Mar 20 | Unregistered CommenterMike Tyson
Digital technology is growing rapidly with new inventions everyday. One of the inventions is the 3D printer, it provides the three-dimensional solid object of any shape from a digital model. It is used in prototyping and distributed manufacturing with applications in architecture, construction, design, automotive, engineering etc. 3D systems provide great technology and the choice in 3Dprinting. In 3D printing the printed stuff looks like the real one and hence it improves the visible quality. Most of the big players of this segment have already produced 3D printers and are doing well in industry. But the quality of printed photograph also depends on the kind of raw material used. Hence whether you are using 2D or 3D printer choosing the right raw material is very important.
Mar 20 | Unregistered CommenterMike Tyson
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