3D printing may turn cheap as patents expire

BANGALORE: A bunch of 3D printing patents expiring this year are likely to open up opportunities for Indian entrepreneurs to build more efficient, high quality printers that can even build objects in metal at a much lower cost.

This is likely to help entrepreneurs like Bangalore-based Prajnay R Boddepalli, 26, who was building a 3D printer along with his friend but postponed plans after realising that some of the technologies he was using could potentially breach existing patents.

Many like Boddepalli are eagerly waiting for the patents to expire later this year. If what happened in 2009 when some major 3D printing patents last expired and brought down prices by a huge margin is anything to go by, the market is likely to see another round of hectic innovations.

Many patents around selective laser sintering (SLS), which makes 3D printing more precise and functional, are among those that are set to expire and bring down costs for the manufacturers.

Even though we’ve built our 3D printer from scratch, we’d rather wait for the major patents to expire than to get into any patent infringement trouble, said Boddepalli, who did his MS in Industrial Engineering from University of Wisconsin before starting his venture last year.

Boddepalli currently uses two 3D printers from US-based Makerbot, a division of Stratasys, to create 3D prototypes for clients, including architects, product design firms and hobbyists.

After the expiry of these patents, Boddepalli expects to sell his in-house developed 3D printer for Rs 50,000, much lower than the $1,799 (Rs 1.07 lakh) he paid for his printers.

Most 3D printers available in India currently are built using open source technology, which limits the quality, size and the materials used for 3D prints.

The expiry of patents would let startups build products that are of finer quality and larger in size, along with the ability to use higher number of materials to print.

Bangalore-based Brahma3, which has already built a printer using its own technology, expects to come up with printers, which could print materials including metal.

Co-founders Nikhil Velpanur and Arvind Nadig’s Rs 1.2 lakh printer currently prints only plastic-based materials. news-ET


Google hit by 70,000 ‘right to be forgotten’ requests

LONDON: More than 70,000 people have already asked Google to delete links about them under Europe’s “right to be forgotten” ruling, with some of the world biggest news sites the first to be hit.

The search engine has restricted access to a BBC blog posting and several British newspaper stories under a legal ruling granting people a right to be “forgotten” in search engines, it emerged on Thursday.

Google said it had received 70,000 requests since it put a form online on May 30as a result of the ruling by the European Court of Justice.

The court said that individuals have the right to have links to information about them deleted from searches in certain circumstances, such as if the data is outdated or inaccurate.

But BBC economics editor Robert Peston complained that Google had “killed this example of my journalism” after being informed that a 2007 posting about former Merrill Lynch chairman Stan O’Neal had been removed from certain searches in Europe.

The Guardian newspaper also said it had been notified that six links to its stories had been removed from search results, three of them about a 2010 controversy involving a now-retired Scottish Premier League referee.

The newspaper said Google gave it no reason for removing the link or a chance to appeal.

Reports in Europe late Thursday indicated that Google restored some deleted Guardian story links to search results, indicating the California-based Internet titanBSE -0.40 % was refining the right-to-be-forgotten process on the go.

European news organisations have opened fire on Google for removing links to stories from search results in the name of adhering to the court order.

Mail Online, the world’s biggest news site, said it had received notification that links to a story about the same Scottish referee, Dougie McDonald, had been removed from certain searches.
Other stories restricted include one about a couple caught having sex on a train, and another about a Muslim man who accused the airline Cathay Pacific of refusing to employ him because of his name.

“These examples show what a nonsense the right to be forgotten is. It is the equivalent of going into libraries and burning books you don’t like,” said Martin Clarke, the publisher of Mail Online.

He said the website would regularly publish lists of articles removed from Google’s European search results, while the BBC and The Guardian also published links to the restricted stories.

The links remain visible on Google.com, the US version of the site, and the restrictions only appear to relate to certain search terms.

A commentary in The Guardian noted that a search for Dougie McDonald no longer brought up its story on Google.co.uk, but a search for “Scottish referee who lied” worked fine.news-ET