Printing Pool Parts

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There has been a lot of talk this year about 3-D printing, and the superstar in the world of stocks is 3D Systems Corporation, whose chart is shown below.


I was really scratching my head as to what the big market opportunity was. The kinds of things I saw coming out of consumer printers were cheap little plastic toys.

Then – light bulb time! – it finally occurred to me an instance where I’d love to have access to such a thing. My big dog Kobe has, on more than one occasion, decided it would be fun to yank on the swimming pool’s underwater cleaning robot. Kobe swims most days, and there’s nothing more fun than detaching the cleaning robot, with its long tube, and parading around with it.

When this happens, it means I have to (a) put the robot in the car (b) drive fifteen minutes to a pool parts store (c) pay them $35 for a part that probably cost twenty cents to make.

How much better it would be for me to create this at home. In fact, most of the house fix-it jobs I deal with are with cheap plastic parts that cost a hundred times their production cost, since there’s really nothing else a person can do about it. If a little plastic piece in one of my Lutron light switches breaks, I have to get an entire new $80 fixture, even though the plastic part in question is probably worth two pennies.

I’m not sure what intellectual property rights revolve around these manufactured goods. I doubt a person can simply print up parts that are owned by a manufacturer……..I’m just not sure. If nothing else, perhaps the day will come soon that I can just go to a web site, download the file needed to “print” a particular part (for, say, $5 instead of $35), and solve my problem.