We're certain most of you have heard of MakerBot's latest device: The Digitizer. It's a relatively inexpensive 3D scanner designed for prosumer use. As the first 3D scanner that could hit a mass audience, we pondered what it might mean. What happens when large numbers of people own a 3D scanner. Here's our predictions:
Thingiverse Overflows. Sure, you can add more storage, but watch out - Thingiverse, the largest free online repository of 3D models will almost certainly fill up with all manner of scanned objects. While only some people are skilled 3D modelers, many more will now be able to create 3D models at the push of a button. They'll also be able to push the Thingiverse "upload" button.
Lawsuits. Everywhere. The scanner permits 3D copying of patented or licensed material. Expect an avalanche of Star Wars characters, Cars and replacement parts. Then expect an avalanche of cease and desist orders, followed by lawsuits.
Rigorous Rules. If lawsuits and takedowns occur frequently, expect the owners of online 3D repositories to change their terms of service to put the onus on uploaders to ensure their files are legal.
CAD Demand Increases. With all the 3D scans appearing, we expect at least some people will want to convert them into CAD files for modification. Therefore, there will be a slight uptick in power 3D modeling software and associated training.