Why Are People Scared Of 3D Printing? Myths, Facts! Potential Ethical & Legal Issues


The 3D printing industry basically involves a range of digital fabrication processes that directly manufacture objects from computer models in layers of material without using expensive tools.

3D printing just like any other new industries has problems that some people might be is scared of.

However, the realities of 3D printing by consumers and businesses have quite a number of positive feedbacks that can dispel some common myths and fears around the 3D printing industry. Let’s address the fear that surrounds 3D printing.

Common myths and fears about 3D printing

Here are some of the common myths and fears about 3D printing technology:

3D Printing Is Here To Stay

Everyone will get an opportunity to print firearms

Most experts believe that 3D-printed guns may be risky to users themselves than anyone else due to the amount of 3D prints that go wrong. While you may print something close to a gun, it’s still not possible to print a gun entirely since you will need metal components and ammunition.

Check out our post “Do 3D Printed Lowers & Silencers Work? How Reliable Are They!

3D printing will destroy environment

Another fear of 3D printing is that producing plastics objects much easier will lead to environmental exploitation due to the ease of producing many new plastic products. However, the counterargument to this fear is that 3D printing lowers waste as compared to subtractive manufacturing. Also, materials like PLA are biodegradable.

For instance, you can use plant-based materials to turn food waste into 3D printer filaments.  Massive printing also providers options of using recycled plastics to produce other products.

3D printing will take up our jobs

For a longer period of time, 3D printing has either been seen as revolutionary or disruptive. Just like other emerging technologies across the globe, their terms have always brought the fear of job losses.

For instance, the capacity to produce complex 3D shapes in one part reduces business opportunities for suppliers who deal with supplying components.

On the contrary opinion, access to low-cost products produced locally helps convert bright ideas into career and business opportunities. Availability of 3D design and printing skills has greatly helped many vulnerable people make and design jewelry using their own skills rather than falling victims to exploitation. Check out our article on In What Situations Are 3D Printing Most Valuable? And Why Use It!

3D printing technology is the best way to boost engagement with engineering and science in schools, with even older people seeking to upgrade their skills through 3D printing to enable them to fit in this creative industry even after retirement. Generally, 3D printing technology has immensely helped the dreams of many entrepreneurs achievable.

Emergence of fake products

With 3D printing technology, companies are now capable of producing new products and spare parts including sports shoes, dental crowns, and hearing aids.  For many years, it has been believed that 3D printing technology will create room for many fake products. Companies fear someone may produce fake versions of their original products or steal their designs.

Manufacturers will take longer to learn that their intellectual property can safely be shared online, just like it took longer for the music industry to embrace digital sales platforms like Napster. Blockchain can be used as a solution to design accessibility issues to help in keeping track of 3D printed products.

However, companies must at the same time choose between treating customers who want to download, create, and print designs as competitors or collaborators.

3D printing is too expensive

Some people believe that 3D printing materials and designs are either too complex, too expensive, or both for ordinary individuals to venture in. For those holding back this fear, many public libraries today provide access to computers that you can use to design, using design tools available free for download.

Also, you can download and ‘remix’ a vast range of objects if you don’t prefer creating your own designs. Engaging someone to help you with 3D design and printing is also an option. (Source)

Check out our article on how much it cost to DIY 3D print?

What is legitimately scary about 3D printing?

The issue of safety has always been the scariest factor of greater concern with 3D printing applications, especially in critical areas like medicine and security. Safety is, of course, a vital factor of concern in medical 3D printing technology.

3D printed prosthetics and splints should be made using proper techniques and materials, to make them biologically safe and compatible to withstand constant contact with the human fluid. If the wrong technique and material are used for the 3D printed objects it can do more harm than good and that is scary.

The creation of unregulated firearms is no doubt a threat to the world’s security. The history of military technology advises that 3D printing technology could bring about a new kind of arms race, increasing the level of threat to which many civilians are exposed.

Is 3D printing unethical?

3D printing technology has grown widely over the decades, especially with the emergence of home 3D printers. Many items are today manufactured for homes, raising ethical issues.

The concern is with relation to intellectual property. With the introduction of 3D scanners, It’s now possible to download items, scan and print copies without protecting intellectual property. Many 3D printed products are not protected by the current intellectual property laws.   

3D printing technology offers a wealth of opportunities for innovation within the existing legal frameworks. However, with the many technological advancements, some of its operations may be illegal, especially in regard to intellectual property laws.

We are yet to see which technology laws approach the 3D printing technology will take.

Can you patent a 3D model?

3D printing technology is an innovative invention. It is obvious to wonder if you will be able to patent that unique idea/product you create to prevent others from running away with it. 3D models can be patented. 3D models patenting process is similar to that of patenting ideas or products.

You have to go through the whole process of patenting your product or idea: from filing an application to paying the fee and finally waiting for approval or denial. 3D products/ideas are patented for 20 years. 

When your 3D product or idea is patented:

  1. The product/idea is now secure, and you have full ownership rights
  2. You protect your business’s interest so that you become the sole producer or the idea or product. 
  3. You have recourse and time to improve your idea or product for the defined length of your patent (normally 20 years). (Source)

Conclusion

With the many questions than answers in this article, it is evidenced that 3D printing is rapidly growing and raising a lot of uncertainties. 3D printing technology is yet to accomplish its full potential! However, it has greatly changed the way we operate in the fields of personalized products, large-scale manufacturing, product design, and prototyping.

With all these great changes that 3D printing technology has brought, it has also brought legal challenges that were not in existence before. Matters of product liability, safety, and data privacy are issues more concerned. Copyright protection of the digital 3D models is still an issue pending clear legal guidance.

In case you have any queries about 3D printing technology, do not hesitate to contact us! At 3D Print Schooling, you will get well-researched content that will enlighten you on any information you may need within the 3D printing technology.

sherifjallad

I am a very well experienced techie civil engineer who's extensively interested in 3D printing technology and even more captivated by the potential of 3D printing livable structures

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