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CES 2014: 3D Printing Ready to Dominate in Las Vegas

While 3D printing is a technology with endless possibilities, it will also present ethical challenges. Those issues will be on display at CES 2014.

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The possibilities and challenges of 3D printing will take the stage at CES 2014 in Las Vegas.

The world of 3D printing is positioned to do more than dominate this year's edition of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  While we introduced you to the pioneering MakerBot at last year's CES, 3D printing is now ready to take over the world.

While 3D printing is already able to produce everything from shoes to guns to auto parts, theories and predictions abound that there's no reason that same technology couldn't quickly manufacture food and human tissue for medical procedures. Just as a block of resin and a laser or two can print a ready made machine or other design, the same system could combine source elements to produce ever more elaborate end products.

Those concepts raise plenty of ethical challenges for society to wrestle with on a daily basis. For example, we make people wait to a buy a gun for a reason: We all want to make sure they're getting a weapon with a level head and a background free of violence or mental illness. With a big enough 3D printer, they can crank out their own entirely function weapon in a matter of hours without anyone knowing.

In addition, many of the parts in your car are patented by the manufacturer. Every make from Ford to Ferrari protects their engines and other builds as intellectual property since their engineers put in countless hours perfecting the systems. These days, if a part breaks down, anyone could 3D print a replacement with the right program. That's patent infringement and it's against the law — a federal crime punishable by massive fines. 

Since 3D printing promises to send a lot of our heads spinning with possibilities and potential problems, CES 2014 will feature Bre Pettis, CEO and co-founder of MakerBot, as a keynote speaker. Pettis has led MakerBot as CEO since its beginning in 2009 and helped to build the company into a leader in desktop 3D printing.

Bre will speak at the LIT Dinner, 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, January 8, at the Lafite Ballroom at Wynn Las Vegas. It's invitation only, and all of CES is open only to consumer electronics industry professionals.

Check in at the CraveOnline CES Event Coverage Center anytime 24/7/365 for the latest show updates!

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