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!