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3D Printing and Intellectual Property Futures

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a new emerging technology which has prompted significant debate and discussion regarding its social, economic and legal impact. From the emergence of 3D printed guns and the associated concerns regarding crime and terrorism, to the possibility of 3D printed food and houses, the implementations of this technology are wide ranging and have provoked both excitement and fear in equal measures.

One major issue for 3D printing’s design, use and implementation so far is its relationship with intellectual property (IP) law. 3D printing is a decentralised technology, a feature it shares with the Internet. This characteristic along with the availability of cheap 3D printing machines, has given rise to concern that 3D printing may facilitate mass IP infringement in a similar way to the Internet has done via easy data replicability and file sharing. 3D printing requires digital design files as an input, along with the raw materials, to create final objects. These digital design files may be found on…


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Image by Christian Reil from Pixabay.