China has a long standing problem with intellectual property rights. Some progress has been made but there is still a long way to go. While China may be the worlds factory there is still a standing tradition of hiding IP because someone will copy it if they can.
This mentality is directly opposite to open source. So we were excited to see a China based company like Creality release the firmware for their popular CR-10S printer. This was done mostly by Naomi Wu being on site and convincing Creality that community support and open source make great business sense. Once they complied with open source we were happy to bring them back on board as products in our store.
This was quickly followed by Creality releasing all of their source for both software and hardware and getting OSHW certification on their Ender3. This was truly revolutionary and in direct opposition of China business practices so everyone was watching. It was a great chance to get China based manufacturing to embrace open source.
This is truly revolutionary for a China based company and we are surprised by how little fanfare has come of it. It deserves more attention.
For those of you that have a short memory. 3D printing as we know it today is because of patents expiring and multiple people and companies picking up the ball and making 3D printers and releasing it under open source. Quality, price and reliability have exploded under this new concept.
So we were upset to see a recent report by Naomi Wu that another China based 3D printer company used an American patent to stop Creality from selling their Ender3. What seems to be the worse part of it is that the patent doesn't seem to apply to the Ender3 at all. The wording is confusing a vague but even though we are not lawyers when we read it there is only references to software based controls of the printing process. Since the only software included with the Ender3 is Marlin with a standard configuration and the entire hardware configuration of the Ender3 being common components found on every FDM 3D printer in existence the community should be worried. Sadly this was enough for Amazon to pull the Ender3 from sale.
So how does this means open source hardware and software in China might be dead?
Well Creality was the first to test the waters of open source in China and everyone in China is watching. Can the open source community truly support an open source business? Right now the answer seems to be no. Nobody is speaking up and nobody is coming. China businesses are already responding and using this as proof that open source is not going to work for them.
So you as a community member need to remember our roots, support only open source products and reject those products that do not embrace what has made our businesses and hobbies so great.
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