Entirely through no fault of their own, the astonishingly innovative academics at the Open3DP project have run into obstacles living up to the “open” in their name.
Since approximately, October 17, 2011, we’ve been a little bit more guarded about what is going on in our lab and perhaps a little less helpful or open to some of you. We’re sorry. Our University has decided, with no faculty involvement to change our consulting/engagement forms.
The change means that University of Washington is now claiming total ownership of intellectual property developed by facutly and students. Previously the project had been sharing its knowledge much more freely across an amazing breadth of efforts. These are the folks that figured out how to print 3D objects in wood and generally have been working with a variety of materials broader than most included concrete, glass and tea.
To benefit from their considerable experience now requires a consulting contract that may cost as much as $80K to $110K at a minimum. Several of the faculty are working to change the new policy. They are circulating a form letter in response to inquiries highlighting the situation and redirecting interested parties to other resources in the 3DP community.
I had the great pleasure of talking with one of the faculty working on Open3DP last Summer. The irony for me is that the conversation I had then informed me of the patent situation around powder bed 3DP technologies of which previously I had been largely ignorant. In a nutshell there are still considerable barriers in the form of intellectual property licensing keeping out all but the well financed commercial ventures or the most brazen academics and homebrew enthusiasts.