Government urged to create 3D printing policy

New report recommends the UK government needs to act now in order to maximise the opportunities set to arise from the 3D printing revolution and to safeguard the country ahead of potential threats
 Opportunities need to be maximised, threats reduced

The latest report from the Big Innovation Centre suggests that though the increased adoption of 3D printing is likely to stimulate manufacturing jobs, reduce the industry’s environmental impact and offer consumers unprecedented choice, the UK’s legal system could be put under major strain.

The report concludes that the government must act swiftly to introduce a flexible intellectual property system able to keep pace with technological development, provide the incentives for investors and designers and allows some form of regulation on products being created.

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Co-author of the report and researcher at the Big Innovation Centre, Andrew Sissons commented:

“3D printing will shatter the barrier between the internet and the physical world, and the law will no longer be able to distinguish between the two. If the government wants to regulate guns and other dangerous items in the age of 3D printing, it will need a radically different approach.

“The experience of the music industry should act as a warning for policy makers here. Government policy was slow to adapt to the digitisation of music and it enforced outdated copyright laws rather than seeking reforms that promote innovation.

“Manufacturing, the industry that 3D printing will disrupt, is far more important than the music industry and the risks have far more serious implications, so the government cannot afford to ignore these issues for any longer.”

Fellow co-author and researcher, Spencer Thompson added:

“The potential economic implications of the technology are huge; 3D printing will play to the UK’s strengths in design, retail and digital industries, putting Britain in a strong position to be a world leader.

“It could also shake up the way we do manufacturing, replacing mass production with localised manufacturing and potentially bring manufacturing jobs back to the UK.”

Thompson concluded:

“From the production of household goods to transplanted organs, the possibilities are endless. The government must not ignore this opportunity to inject some much-needed growth into the UK economy.”

The result of an initiative between The Work Foundation and Lancaster University, the Big Innovation Centre is a leading research institution to promote effective innovation and investment in the UK.

The full report, “Three Dimensional Policy: Why Britain needs a policy framework for 3D printing” and more information can be obtained by contacting Anna Kharbanda on 020 7976 3646 or

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