3D Printing

GE Invents 3D Printing Holiday Featuring Anti-NSA Commentary

GE has come to embrace the potential of additive manufacturing and crowd sourcing: previously hosting a design competition for 3D printed jet engine brackets as well as using AM to produce its LEAP engine fuel nozzles. And, now, after teaming up with Makerbot, 3D Systems and Autodesk, they’ve even invented a 3D printing holiday. Tomorrow, December 3rd, the megacorp is kicking off 3D Printing Day, an event in which 3D printed stocking stuffers will be released to the public.

Developed by 12 world figures teamed up with professional designers, a series of CAD files will be made open source, giving you plenty of time to print them as gifts for the holidays. The objects are meant to be practical and aesthetically pleasing, demonstrating the potential for 3D printing presents during the holiday season. And, if you tweet at the conglomerate during the holiday with the hashtag #3DPrintMyGift, you have a chance to win a customized version of the object printed just for you.

In addition to objects developed by Red Sox pitcher Craig Breslow, Al Roker, Stacy London of TLC’s What Not to Wear, we will also see an interesting item created by Chris Poole, the founder of the popular message board 4Chan. The Spy Block, shown in the promo video below, is a small piece of plastic meant to be placed over your webcam to prevent unwanted surveillance.

Of course, the Spy Block can’t actually prevent the National Security Agency from going through your emails and tapping your phone. Instead, it’s meant to act as a bit of commentary. Poole tells The Verge of the potential for 3D printing, saying, “It’s serious, useful, … utilitarian,” and goes onto describe the purpose behind his simple device, “If you have painters tape [over your camera], people are like, ‘What the fuck’s wrong with your computer?’ It’s cool to have something that’s not just functional but also aesthetically pleasing. It’s also a conversation starter. You want people to notice that you’re using it.

More interesting, to me, than the discussion that could be provoked by the Spy Block, is the fact that GE is willing to incorporate it into their new holiday.  As a long time government contractor, it seems that such a gesture may reflect negatively on their partners in the White House. Also of note, in regards to 3D Printing Day, is the partnership between AM rivals Makerbot (Stratasys) and 3D Systems through GE. I guess the holidays really do allow people to put aside their petty differences and learn to get along.

Source: The Verge