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April 30 2013

Spread of 3-D Printing Raises Intellectual Property Questions

As 3-D printing technology enables more and more users to fabricate components, and potentially entire products, from home, protecting the rights on patented designs could form the next major intellectual property conflict.

At the White House Science Fair this month, President Obama shook hands with a fully operational robotic arm that cost a few hundred dollars’ worth of parts, all of which (except for some motors, screws and gears) were generated from a 3-D printer. Made by 17-year-old Easton LaChapelle, of Mancos, Colo., the 3-D printed arm was inspired by the hope of replacing an $80,000 prosthetic arm of a young girl he had met.

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