The Risks of 3D Printing

The Risks of 3D Printing


        3-D Printing

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     Copyright infringement – CAD files that infringe on patents and design rights are already beginning to show up on the Internet. The piracy of digital design files will likely be widespread and difficult to police. Companies will need to insure themselves against this risk and find innovative ways to guard intellectual property.

     Compromised supply chain – Widely available CAD files means that compromised parts could enter the supply chain. Even if a company is not using 3-D printing in its own operations, it is still at risk of manufacturing products with defective or unsafe 3-D-printed components, and of being held liable for the resulting damage.

     Exposure to ultrafine particles (UFPs) – Printers without proper ventilation can expose users to the UFPs that are released during the printing process. Inhaled UFPs can cause adverse health effects, including an increased risk of asthma, heart disease and stroke.

     Global public safety – Currently, no legislation exists to regulate 3-D printing, so anyone, anywhere can download anything. In 2012, Defense Distributed, a company based in the United States, created a CAD file for a 3-D printable gun. Soon after, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security called for the file to be taken down, but not before it had been downloaded by more than 100,000 people in places as far away as Germany, Spain and Brazil. There are more opportunities for obtaining banned products with 3-D printing.

Like any technology, 3-D printing is not without risks, many of which are yet to be discovered. Despite these risks, companies are looking to 3-D printing technology to rethink processes and improve business operations.

Industry experts predict that 3-D printing will transform manufacturing as we know it. Exciting projects like rebuilding coral reefs, growing functioning organs and body parts and replicating priceless artifacts for scientific study will continue to capture the attention of the public and encourage further innovation.


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