How could 3D printing technology help the cause of Free Software?


If I understand correctly, the 3D printing technology boomed once all the patents related to it expired - the original technology was invented in the 1980s. Apart from this obvious ideological example though, how would the possession of an actual 3D printer help a GLUG/the organisation help the people, and thus the society, and indirectly the cause?

I’ve been thinking about buying and assembling a 3D printer for a long time. Any added incentive would help. :smiley:

Edit: further reading:


That was the exact case with the steam engine as well

How much would the components cost? We can do the community thing around it if you prefer?


It honestly depends on what you intend to print with it. Much like OSs and DE/WMs, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. But generally it starts with a minimum of Rs. 25,000/-, though sourcing individal components and getting some stuff shipped can help us bring the cost down to as little as Rs. 13,000/-.

This would be perfect. And to do this we have to decide what we can do with it. How is it going to be relevant to us as an organisation apart from just ‘something cool that we did’?


Many times I’ve come across people buying and assembling a 3D printer, followed by an excited printing of a 3D model and then it lying in the corner collecting dust.

What I would argue is that one should start with learning 3D modelling. Once a 3D model is ready, it can be sent to be printed for a few hundred rupees and it’ll be delivered to your home. One could get the 3D models from many online repositories too. In any case, once the community starts regularly ordering 3D models to be printed, then you can be sure that the 3D model that is bought will be regularly used. I know this would need creating awareness that it is easy to create simple 3D models and get them printed. FreeCAD is a free software to do 3D modelling.

Creating open 3D models is key to open hardware. Not just the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) designs should be open. So let’s start with creating free 3D models using free 3D modelling software and if we’re successful we can get a Open Hardware 3D printer.