The world renown Dutch 3D printer manufacturer, and leader in the open source 3D printer community, Ultimaker, has filed its first patent.
The patent in question is NL2015361:
‘According the present invention a print bed levelling system of the type defined in the preamble is provided, wherein the print bed levelling system comprises a nozzle head assembly movably arranged with respect to a substantially flat print bed member, the nozzle head assembly comprising one or more nozzle bodies each having a nozzle end, and a contactless sensor member disposed at a print bed engagement end of the nozzle head assembly, wherein the contactless sensor member comprises a sensing surface in sensing engagement with the print bed member over a relative sensing range between a distal sensing position and a proximal sensing distance.
– Reference: NL2015361’
Has Ultimaker gone over to the Dark Side? At first glance, it would seem that way. But not so fast says the Ultimaker Community and Event Manager Sander Van Geelen. “Owning a patent is one thing, but how we act upon it is another.
Sander went on to state that they will not change their behavior and attitude toward other users and goes on to explain why the patent is necessary for a company that has made their roots in open source.
Well, with the Ultimaker 3 in particular, we are tapping into a new market of enterprises and competitors who play a whole different game. Forcing the competition out of the market through lawsuits and court is not uncommon. And we need to be prepared. Hence this defensive strategy.
It seems their intention is not to flex their muscles with casual users but to continue supporting collaborations and help stimulate research.
They also plan to keep sharing the files of the Ultimaker 3 and so on at their Ultimaker GitHub page. The file sharing should help alleviate some fears as to their real intentions.
When you think about it, it makes total sense as to why Ultimaker would want some protection from the harsh tactics of big business.
Only time will tell how this affect the relationship between them and the open source community. For now, we will have to take their word on it. If you have an opinion and would like to share then, please leave a comment below.
Click here to view the original announcement made by Lana Lazova at ultimaker.com.
Click here to view the statement made by Sander Van Geleen along with some good conversation and many questions from others in the 3D printing and open source community.