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After reading my blog post from last week, 3D printing is not like making copies, Brian Spindel, president of COO and co-founder of PostNet, and I had a conversation about some of the questions I raised about offering 3D printing. I questioned whether it was feasible to offer that type of service in a business services center along with copying, packing and shipping, given that there is often intellectual property to protect.

"I've been in the retail pack-and-ship and business services arena for 30 years, and whenever something new comes along I try to correlate it to past evolutions of technology," Spindel explained.

"When I start looking at 3D printing services operationally, it's not that much different from the other services we offer. Copyright protection is an issue in the copy business, but it was more problematic in the 1990s when people would bring in books, put them down on the glass and start copying pages. We have to consider who owns what's being printed. That's not a lot different than 3D."

In traditional publishing, there are people who create templates with a royalty structure that provides rights to buy photos from the photographer, for example. "All these models that have been created help people understand that someone owns the intellectual property," Spindel said. "There are 3D printable files; some are free, others you pay a use royalty. If this is going to get more widespread, there will have to be a method similar with the ability to create a file for output which you purchase to use. It's certainly more complex than a 2D file."
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