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  • Writer's pictureBen Levi

Trademarks and The 3D community

We are all part of an amazing community.

A community of makers, a community of developers, a community of people who come willing to learn, experience together, and most importantly share. Out of this 3D community came many businesses and developers from all over the world. Some of them have not forgotten where they came from and what they represent.

Josef Průša is only one example of many. I adore him not because he sells 3D printers, but because he represents the sharing idea that was the motive of the 3D community the whole time. He doesn't seem to be bothered by the dozens of clones being sold on Aliexpress and Europe and yet he shares almost everything with the 3D community he came from. I guess he knows that he is not just selling a printer but a complete 3d printer package with support.

E3D is also a good example of it and so many other projects came from the community. They are all willing to share CAD files, ideas, codes, and everything the community needs.

Pic: I added random images so you don't get bored.

I think we have here 3 main components: a cohesive community, developers, and affordable 3d printer parts. they all created a good infrastructure for community growth. Each of these is no less important than the other. The improvised parts that were once part of our first printers - replaced by shiny, and much more efficient parts. Parts that can be trusted and are available and affordable to everyone. IS IT? is it truly affordable?

Well, I hope that a developer who patents something will understand that it's not fair to set a ridiculously expensive price for it. After all, for most of us, it's just a hobby. Make no mistake, I don't justify patent infringement but I'm very frustrated to see a component whose cost of development, production, and marketing is less than $17 - being sold for a few hundred dollars.

Naturally, community members searched for alternatives and found them in the Chinese market. Which hastened to grab the opportunity and offer similar products for a lower and more reasonable price. Very quickly IPP/IPR claims began to ban Aliexrpess stores from time to time, even today. Just a week ago I tested a couple of nice Chinese CHT clones. yet, I bothered to purchase 4 pcs of the original Bondtech CHT nozzle a few days after. why? Because Bondtech really introduced a significant innovation, were required to pay patent licenses and still offer it at a fair price. Much less than others who offer zero innovation, throwing names of exotic metals into the air and demanding a fortune for them. Well done Bondtech!

Pic: The Bondtech CHT nozzles I purchased for my own use - amazing results!

So related to that, a few days ago I woke up in the morning and to my surprise, found out that my project had been stolen. At least that's what I understood from the messages some of my friends sent me. As you can see, it seems that Fysetc registered a trademark on my project without my asking me first, they were not the only ones. it's not just me but many other projects too. After a few video calls and chats with close Chinese friends, the situation became clearer. A cold war has been going on beneath the surface for a long time, it turns out that IPR/IPP claims got few stores to be banned for weeks and months - raising concerns among Chinese stores and manufacturers. Gradually they began to register names of trademarks. Most of them wanted to ensure that they won't be banned if someone will fill an IPP/IPR complaint. soon enough others were doing it maybe just out of panic. What is happening there now is complete chaos.

Pic: Chinese trademark registration that I even didn't know about.

You're probably asking what I did about it?

In the past, a decent CoreXY 3d printer would have cost over $2,800. The BLV project started as an idea of creating an accurate and reliable printer but also affordable with a BOM price range of 1000$. Inspired by the 3D community, I promised myself that if it will be good enough, I would share everything with the community - never expected it to be so popular. A large part of it is thanks to the knowledge I gained from the community and to Aliexpress stores who offered parts at an affordable price. You're probably bothered why I keep saying "affordable" at every opportunity. So I'll tell you something about myself...

I was born into a good family. when I was young, my father got cancer and later passed away, very quickly we became poor. Computer, game console and sometimes even food - became a dream I could only enjoy when I visited friends. I worked hard every day after school to help my family. graduated high school successfully, saved money, and went to university. Therefore for me, the concept of affordability has a special meaning. now you can guess what was my response to the trademark issue with Fysetc.

After many conversations, I expressed my disappointment that they didn't share this decision with me. But at last, we came to a kind of understanding. I asked them not to prevent competition, As long as you don't ban anyone else without my permission and as long they will keep it affordable and fair priced, I don't have a problem - at least for now. For the record, the only case in which I had to file an IPP/IPR complaint was against a factory that cloned the metal kit incorrectly - which led to dozens of complaints even though I didn't design their parts.

Pic: The BLV next Hotend setup? testing it soon

I tried to map the manufacturers providing parts for the BLV project:

  • Fysetc currently, the Fysetc store is the supplier for the BLV Cube kit. I made an honest review a few months ago. they are manufacturing many parts suitable for the BLV project and recently they started selling the Spider V2.2 board which I use now with a 48V system (Crazy absolutely crazy fast!!) and I am very happy with it. They also sell the BLV Ender 3 Pro metal kit (files are available for free for all). Disclosure: They gave me a symbolic discount on the first kit and that's it.

  • Blurolls Peter was the first to support the BLV project and truly believed it. He made the first Kit and still is a supplier for the BLV Cube kit and Lite kit - cost under 500$! He also provides many high-quality parts for the BLV project. Blurolls is the ONLY manufacturer of the BLV Metal kit - providing more than 65 CNC machined aluminum parts at an unbelievable price of 110$. Although the BLV project is defined as open-source, The BLV metal kit which came after is not fully open-source. only the X-carriage CAD files were published. we have an agreement in which I gave him my work for free and in return, he is selling the parts at the lowest price he can afford. No one else could promise me to sell it at a lower price than him - No one and many did try. Please note that Fysetc Kits contains the official Blurolls BLV Metal kit.

  • Mellow You all know Mellow store. "High-quality" is his second name. Mellow will produce the New Carbon X-axis for the BLV Cube and I will include a few of his next products o the next update. I made a few months ago a whole new setup for the Mellow NF-Sunrise hotend/extruder. His idler and pulleys are the highest quality yet affordable I found for the BLV project. the well-known quality manufacturer which I respect.

  • LDO they started supporting a few community projects. the orbiter and BLV are just an example. LDO offers an excellent set of steppers motors for the BLV project and I even tested their's new LDO-42sth48-2504ac 2.5A steppers with Fysetc HV5160 drivers - insane results for 300 tests hours, very recommended! I currently going to test the new Orbiter V2.0 by LDO with the Rapido hotend. many thanks to my friend Róbert Lőrincz for the efforts he has put into the amazing orbiter v2.0 extruder project.

  • Trianglelab Well-known manufacturer, producing high-quality parts for many projects. I adapted the Dragon Hotend and Matrix extruder/hotend since it was out. currently going to test the new Rapido Hotend with Róbert Lőrincz's new Orbiter V2.0 extruder.

  • Funssor provides frames, and more for the BLV project - very affordable prices!

  • Haldis testing new hotends setups for high-speed printing but currently, no approved parts.

  • CNA Mechanical Parts Store Offers a variety of linear rails and other affordable mechanical parts that I purchased and tested myself. I lost a lot of money on cheap linear rails I had purchased before until I purchased rails from CNA - excellent linear rails at a reasonable price.

  • BOM links All the products and stores that are part of the BOM - I testes most of them myself and approved. some of them were suggested by the community members.

Please feel free to provide parts for the BLV project, including printed parts as long you don't take advantage nor manipulate the project's license terms. Please respect the 3D community and don't ban competition.

And a small piece of advice for our Chinese friends who have become an integral part of the 3D community. My dear friends, Please try to be as transparent as possible and share with us decisions related to developers and projects. Please Communicate with us and don't hesitate to ask and share your thoughts.

And for our great community... I see each one of the members who have started a shared project as a partner. for those of you who decide to start a company or just sell products, Please, I'm begging you - Do not forget where you came from. You are part of the 3D community, so please don't see us only as something to be exploited for money.

Please, don't take us back to a time when a 3D printer was just a dream.


Ben Levi - BLV project dev.

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