We looked in the mirror of this article and saw a pretty clear image of our work here at Open 3d Printing:  “Never Mind Legality, iPhone Jailbreaking Voids Your Warranty” by Daniel Ionescu, PC World, Jul 27, 2010 7:01 am.  The article reports a change in US copyright law that makes modification of iPhone OS software an exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act restrictions.

Our situation is a bit different, as we are dealing with proprietary 3d print materials and associated delivery systems, not copyrights.  But the fundamental issue is the same–do what is possible and you violate the warranty, putting at risk the relationship you have with the company you liked enough to buy their product in the first place.

With a few adjustments in the article,  we get excerpts  like this:

Never Mind Legality, iPhone Jailbreaking Voids Your Warranty Similar?

The ruling making 3D printer material-breaking legal doesn’t really matter, as long as the process voids the warranty of your 3D printer, which means no free repairs if your 3D printer goes bust because of that.

“At 3DP Company our goal has always been to insure that our customers have a great experience with their 3D printer and we know that material-breaking can severely degrade the experience.

“As we’ve said before, the vast majority of customers do not material-break their 3D printers as this can violate the warranty and can cause the 3D printer to become unstable and not work reliably,” the company said in reply to Monday’s ruling.

The process of material-breaking enables you to use your own material from outside 3DP Company’s Store, and is fun for those who know what they are doing.

For us, the printer experience is just dandy off warranty.   Even a bit of soulcraft in it.   We have been pleased with the stability of our 3d printers with open materials, and we have found that we can self-maintain our investment quite well.  What we want is to have the companies making these printers not void their relationship with us over an anti-freedom marketing strategy.

We have some ideas about how these companies could make money *and* make for greater maker-world happiness.   How about an app store for materials, guys?  App stores.  Have you heard of them?   Or how about branding your own line of low cost materials?  The margins can be ridiculously high, and the stuff is still low cost by an order of magnitude.  Maybe an affiliates program for 3rd party providers of materials, encouraging the maker community to move up market to get access to high performance proprietary  stuff when their designs prove out and folks want to mass produce something.   For all that, how about some open standards on materials and delivery systems to reduce waste and encourage use of environmentally friendly stuff?  Even open standards might make you money by engaging the relatively conservative early majority buying audience, which as Geoffrey Moore teaches us, buys more readily when it has choice (and when it has choice, it likes to choose the market leader).  At some point, you will have to “cross the chasm” and gamble on that market leadership bit or pay the price when the patents expire or someone comes up with a disruptive innovation 3d print platform that makes yours–even though it is the best thing you can protect right up until the end–obsolete.

3 Comments on Does this sound like us? Jailbreaking print materials

  1. Tom says:

    I am on your side, the side of open systems and freedom of experimenting with technology. But, unlike software on the iPhone, using certain materials could actually damage (clog, for example) your hardware. Is it fair to require manufacturers to repair a printer you gummed up? I don’t think so. It would be nice if the manufacturers made their warranties more specific to allow for fixing a broken printer where the damage is not a result of mis-use by the end user.

    • barnett says:

      Tom, of course some materials could damage a printer or change its service profile. There is a difference between identifying those materials and setting up appropriate maintenance guidance for others that do work, on the one hand, and leaving the impression that any materials other than the manufacturer’s own branded product are “potentially damaging” on the other. Once a printer is sold, the paying relationship with the customer runs through sales of materials and service contracts. Brand loyalty for purchasing new equipment runs through that continuing relationship. Anything that turns a customer off, makes it hard to use an impressive and expensive piece of equipment, and sets up an adversarial relationship with that customer is not headed in the right direction.

      If a customer wants access to low cost materials that work really quite well, then printer manufacturers are cutting off their continuing source of income by not creating responsive service contracts. Yes, there is an in-house business proposition that the lucrative deal is in selling super-high margin materials. But customers do not have to accept this business proposition. If manufacturers threaten to cancel their service contracts and raise less than well founded worries about damage, they are working against their customers’ interests.

      We are not suggesting manufacturers should be responsible for all materials someone might want to push through their printers. We are suggesting, rather, that there is good money in certifying more materials for use than manufacturers currently sell. A materials store for certified third party materials. A testing program to demonstrate classes of materials that work fine, or work fine with added maintenance. Expand the warranty and service contract to these materials, teach service reps how to handle any change in maintenance, and make a profit on more materials. There’s nothing fluffy about this–straight good business. “The customer is always right” vs. “we will make the customer fearful.” Where would you want your company to be?

      The folks behind the current pricing models ought to track the disruptive innovation coming at their business models from low cost, simple, good enough recipes. Such recipes are important where people are learning, where there needs to be a lot of iterative design and build work, and where the build volumes get large–where it matters that the material cost is really low. We suggest that printer manufacturers would do well to get into good-enough materials, showing folks how to use these, and offering service for those who need this kind of resource. We suggest this kind of open is also good business. Let’s see what manufacturers make of this suggestion.

  2. Ed says:

    As far as we know, and we have been looking for over 2 years, there is not a resource for certifying materials. Even UL labs does not do this, although they claim to! Our concern is this; how can a 3D printer manufacturer claim to void their warranty if they, or anyone for that matter, does not provide a means of obtaining certification for materials? It would seem that it is not in the best interest of the 3D printer manufacturer to have a means for 3rd parties to obtain certification of their materials, because then the OEM’s would have to actually engage in a competitive market. If anyone knows of such a source please share!

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