I haven't looked at all these free 3D tools but some may be of interest to those heading toward 3D printing. Not sure they all output files in the appropriate format(s). Nonetheless, some of these links might be useful to some inventors.
After last year's CES, I noted that makers of 3D printers and 3D printing service provders had a small but noteable presence. This year their booths seemed larger and at least when I came by, the crowds around the booth seemed larger and more engaged than last year.
If you haven't looked and your invention involves "things," you might want to have a look at the growing market for 3D printers and related services. Here is a short list of those I looked at @ CES. Look here for a basic view of 3D printing (stereolithography).
For those in Silicon Valley, the SVForum has established a 3D Printing SIG. Their next meeting is January 29th.
As the 2013 International CES (no longer officially the "Consumer Electronics Show") winds down in Las Vegas, a few observations.
The show broke records in terms of show floor space--1.9 million
square feet-- and attendance--150,000 people. The show felt much more
crowded than it did last year. Long lines, very crowded show floor, etc.
Noticeable was the continued absence of Apple and the absence on the show floor this year of an official Microsoft booth(s), this after Balmer announced Microsoft's
withdrawal from the show last year. The official absence of both Apple
and Microsoft felt like there were a couple of huge holes in the show.
Given the empty conceptual space, if you will, the view
provided--however broad and deep--has important limitations, chief among
them is that it's not possible to leave the show with a reasonably
complete picture of the "space."
At the same time, Microsoft did have a substantial presence, but one
had to look for it in the products of Microsoft's partners in the
smartphone, PC, tablet, and other verticals.
DRM remains alive and well in the TV / video / Blu-ray / Xbox / mobile space. The major smart TV
vendors (LG, Samsung and then Panasonic, Sony, and may Sharp) remain
committed to controlling video content, especially streaming movies, TV
shows, and the like.
Greg Ahronian (Internet
Patent News Service) emailed an article republished on this site suggesting that large Silicon
Valley law firms are advising clients not to do any prior art searching. This is
crazy advice in my opinion.
time to time Patent Kinetics is asked to evaluate patent portfolios. The top three reasons why most US patents appear
worthless are these:
to search for non-patent prior art. This is by far the most frequent failing.
It is seldom, if ever, the case that there is no relevant art in scientific
journals, the trade press, the general and business press, and publications
from competitors and others in various market adjacency spaces.
to search for patent prior art. Assume that there is nothing new under the sun.
Searching for relevant art can substantially strengthen the patent if and when
on the patent examiners to search the prior art (a very few do reasonable first
passes). This is a dangerous strategy since many examiners in most art units
lack the time, resources, and incentives to do a really thorough job of
searching the patent prior, art let alone the non-patent prior art.
There's a ZDNet post by Jason Perlow suggesting that the show has 3 years to live given that APPL doesn't participate and that MSFT has withdrawn starting next year. May be correct despite this year's apparent high energy and positive tone. It seems like a lot of "also rans" chasing market share of the remainder after Apple has gobbled up smartphones, tablets, etc.
The 3D printers from MakerBot and Cubify and the 3D printing service from Sculpteo were very interesting. Hard to tell whether this will be a "great idea" with limited markets or whether the vendors can do the right marketing to grow revenue sufficiently to sustain each of these companies.
For inventors working on ideas that have physical instantiations, 3D printing may help decrease the time to from initial conceptualization to the first reduction to practice to working physical prototype to licensing. Inventors organizations,garage works, and selected startups may want to consider having a 3D printer demo day if the vendors will cooperate.
The OLED TV screens (Samsung, LG) are superduper: vivid colors, very bright, very thin, very expensive although the prices will come down as manufacturing gets down the learning curve. Living room integration and home control integration have made incremental progress since last year, but no big "Ah Has". More floor space to digital health gizmos and applications. Auto / Entertainment integration continues incrementally in both the new car and aftermarket products. The distraction factor remains a concern.
There were all too numerous small companies trying to get design wins for their component products. Hope springs eternal, I guess. Then there were the also all too numerous companies displaing add-ons to Apple products.Substantially fewer--although more than last year--were displaying Android phone and tablet add-ons.
Yesterday the Senate passed without amendment the Leahy Smith America Invents Act, H.R. 1249 which will become law when signed by President Obama. This bill brings numerous changes, larger and small. A useful summary posted on the Pharma Patents blog (at Foley & Lardner) can be found here.
On saturday morning, July 23rd, I gave a presentation to the Bay Area Chapter of the Inventors Alliance on Common Patent Mistakes That Waste Inventors' Time and Money. The presentation can be downloaded here in PDF format.
The main points include:
It’s possible to keep costs manageable and work with a registered patent attorney
Discipline, patience, and diligence are required
The two most important value killers are:
(1) not searching the prior art, and (2) poor claim language