Regulation is important in any industry, as are standards which ensure that every player in the industry is delivering products and processes up to a certain quality and consistency. There’s a fine line, however, between healthy regulation and unnecessarily strict standards that stifle innovation. At the beginning of July, the European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution entitled “Three-dimensional printing: intellectual property rights and civil liability,” with 631 votes in favor, 27 against and 19 abstentions.
The resolution is largely a positive one in favor of 3D printing, pointing out the benefits of the technology for society and the economy and the need for new rules supporting faster certification of parts. That’s undoubtedly a good thing; one of the factors that holds up additive manufacturing from becoming a more prevalent production technology is the issue of getting bogged down in the part certification process. However, the resolution also calls for the European Commission to consider a revision of the Liability and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) regulatory framework for 3D printing in the European Union.
With the rapid rise of the additive manufacturing sector, it has become increasingly possible for industry players to make spare and replacement parts in a cost-effective manner. What’s more, the sector lends itself especially well to the fabrication of parts for the customisation of existing products and equipment. As such, all parties in the supply chain need to be acutely aware of the very real risks of IP infringement in this evolving space, says Jason Teng, partner and patent attorney at leading full service IP law firm, Potter Clarkson.
As things stand, different considerations apply depending on the type of IP rights covering a particular part or a complex product that includes the part. For instance, the manufacture of a whole patented product would normally constitute patent infringement, unless certain exceptions apply such as private non-commercial use. On the other hand, the manufacture of a spare/replacement part for incorporation into a patented product could either constitute an infringing “making” of the patented product or a non-infringing “repair”, which would vary on a case-by-case basis. On this note, some guidance can be found in a 2011 Supreme Court decision in the Schütz v Werit case.
CECIMO believes the current 3D printing intellectual property rights framework is fit for purpose.
CECIMO, the European Association of the Machine Tool Industries, has said the European Parliament risks stifling 3D printing innovation by introducing premature regulatory measures to protect Intellectual Property.
The European Parliament recently released a non-binding resolution entitled ‘Three-dimensional printing: intellectual property rights and civil liability’, with 631 votes in favour, 27 against, and 19 abstentions. It called for sterner parameters surrounding IP infringements and has suggested a potential revision of the Liability and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) regulatory framework for 3D printing within the European Union, and has also raised the feasibility of national copyright levy systems.
Gas turbines are complex components to manufacture, but additive manufacturing has been successfully utilized to accelerate design cycle times, reduce development test times, provide better test data and reduce the overall time to the release of the final component. It also allows for testing to be performed earlier, as early as the concept or preliminary design phases. This means that there is less likelihood that the entire component will have to be redesigned, as problem areas can be detected and eliminated early.
In a recent case study, a Siemens Energy SGT-A05 industrial gas turbine engine line was manufactured, and additive manufacturing was used for aerodynamic development testing within the preliminary design phase for boundary condition definition of new compressor static flow path components.
Last month, legal practitioners, industry, and academics gathered at The Legal, Regulatory and Business Conference on 3D Printing to discuss the legal, regulatory, and business issues that arise when products are manufactured using 3D printing or additive manufacturing techniques, rather than traditional manufacturing methods.
During the conference, 3D printing was described as the digital revolution, the fourth industrial revolution, a game-changer, and a disruptive innovation. Although the conference focused on all different types of 3D-printed products and uses, it is safe to say that the printing of medical devices falls under each of these descriptors, and may comprise some of 3D printing’s most innovative uses.
A recent series of major developments and events has created a new impetus for 3D printing plastic recycling. 3D printing of recycled plastics has multiple benefits, including lower costs and control over the amount of materials that can be used by 3D printers. Currently, 3D printing filament is produced by melting down virgin plastic pellets and extruding the melted plastic through a circular die which is then rolled up into spools. Printing with pellets or recycled materials is more cost effective and energy efficient than printing with new plastic filaments. In addition, direct printing of plastic pellets eliminates the need for further processing and therefore makes them less expensive.
Plastic has always been one of the leading 3D printer material categories. Now there is an expanding global concern about the amount of plastic product waste and in particular its negative impact on oceans and waterways. Improved pellet 3D printing recycling technology can play an important part in helping solve this environmental problem. 3D printing product developers, engineers, designers and environmentalists working on pellet recycling projects have the opportunity to earn US R&D tax credits.
X-rays reveal more about 3D-printed metal parts as they are being made, and how to improve them
Metal 3D printing could revolutionize manufacturing, but concerns over part quality and certification has kept many industries from jumping into the technology with both feet. From their perspective, the quality and certificate are critical, and essential for parts destined for automotive and aerospace applications.
To improve metal 3D-printed parts, researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) are examining the complex mechanisms that drive defects and limit part quality. They have also teamed with scientists at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Ames Laboratory to better understand 3D printing, looking into what leads to defects and how those flaws might be avoided.
Today marks the start of US trade tariffs on goods valued at $34 billion worth of imports from China. A list published by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) details the 818 tariff lines that will be subject to an additional 25% in duty.
China has responded with additional import taxes on US goods valued at a similar amount. 3D Printing Industry contacted resellers, manufacturers and other 3D printing insiders around the world for their thoughts about how the “the biggest trade war in economic history” will impact additive manufacturing.
So are the trade tariffs a threat, opportunity or a distraction?
From Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP:
On 3 July 2018, the European Parliament adopted a resolution entitled ‘Three-dimensional printing: a challenge in the fields of intellectual property rights and civil liability’.
The resolution starts by pointing out that 3D printing – also known as additive manufacturing – could be of great benefit to the European economy.
But the document mainly looks at the legal issues the technology raises. For example, it says more public awareness is needed to protect IP rights relating to 3D printing and calls on the European Commission to consider issues around civil liability. It even suggests the Commission could set up a specific liability regime.
According to the Parliament, the EU may have to adopt new, and amend existing, laws to take account of 3D printing. With the report claiming that Europe can play a leading role in additive manufacturing, it will be interesting to see how quickly the Commission moves to tackle the issues raised.
In recent years 3D printing has delivered several exciting developments, from organs to race cars. Now, it’s adding houses to its repertoire.
Dutch construction company Van Wijnen has partnered with the Eindhoven University of Technology to deliver five fully habitable, 3D-printed houses by 2019.
According Van Wijnen Manager Rudy van Gurp, Project Milestone (as it’s called) was in part a response to the shortage of people willing to take part in the laborious construction process.
“We need a technical revolution in the constructing area to respond to the shortage of skilled bricklayers in the Netherlands and all over the world,” he said.