As 3D printing continues to gather momentum, it appears that even the big wheels might be starting to turn in the UK – at least if the country’s leaders take on board Andrew Sissons’ and Spencer Thompson’s report titled Three Dimensional Policy: Why Britain needs a policy framework for 3D. It is a thought provoking study on 3D printing’s potential to provide a competitive edge within manufacturing and stimulate economic growth – especially in and for the UK.
Identifying the opportunities and the challenges posed by 3D printing reaching a mass market the report stresses that “time is of the essence,” because “ there may be big first mover advantages for countries that adopt 3D printing early.”
The report is designed to stimulate debate at the higher echelons of industry and government and puts forward the critical issues:
- Intellectual property
- Legal responsibility
It goes on to present some first steps the government can take towards achieving the coherent 3D printing policy framework it strives for, namely:
- Create a 3D printing task force, led by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), able to bring together ideas from business and academia, while coordinating the various levers of government policy.
- Scope a review of the intellectual property implications of 3D printing, building on the work of the Hargreaves Review.
- Fund the establishment of more pilot 3D printing workshops, to enable members of the public to experiment with the technology.
- Develop models for and explore the feasibility of a digital design exchange, analogous to the mooted digital copyright exchange.
- Provide funding for competitions to develop new materials for 3D printing.
- Commission research and feasibility studies into possible methods for regulating 3D printing markets, particularly with regard to the production of dangerous items.
The full report can be downloaded here, and some of the finer points, as might be expected, may prove to be contentious. Here at 3D Printing Industry there has already been some debate and differences of opinion on the suggestions in the report. It is recommended reading, however, and if you get a chance – why not let us know what you think.