The shape of things to come: 3D printing


The shape of things to come: 3D printing

3D printing is advancing at astonishing speeds. WIPR looks at the IP issues surrounding this technology and asks how businesses can protect themselves against infringement.

Twenty years ago, printing replacement organs, human skulls and three course meals seemed like the stuff of science fiction. But in 2013, architects in Amsterdam are building a 3D printed home; scientists in Scotland have proved they can print embryonic stem cells and aircraft manufacturers are working on ways to construct 3D printed planes. By 2025, it’s estimated that the 3D printing industry will be worth $8.4 billion, and US President Barack Obama believes it will be the next revolution in manufacturing.

“3D printing presents tremendous opportunities for businesses,” says Simon Jones, a partner at DLA Piper in London.

“Manufacturers will no longer need to own large production facilities halfway around the world, because they can print products on demand or sell licences to print them locally. This will have a huge impact on the supply chain, it will benefit the environment as there will be less waste, and companies will no longer need to spend a fortune gearing up to make a product and hoping its stock sells,” he adds.

3D printing, counterfeiting, file-sharing, CAD files, design rights