On one hand, the acknowledgment by the EU Parliament of the growing impact that 3D printing is having on just about every segment of manufacturing can be welcomed as a positive evolution. On the other hand CECIMO – the European Machine Tool Industry Association – is warning against the risk that EU 3D printing regulations may hold if not properly thought out.
For those who are not yet up to date, the European Parliament released a non-binding resolution about 3D printing on July 3rd, questioning the suitability of current EU regulations. CECIMO believes that Europe needs a more measured approach to avoid premature regulation that could negatively impact innovation in the EU. At the recent AMEC 2018 conference, CECIMO and other AM industry representative had already expressed concern over the risk for over-regulation and the need to increase AM adoption to preserve Europe’s current leadership in this field.
The Parliament adopted its resolution, “Three-dimensional printing: intellectual property rights and civil liability”, with 631 votes in favour, 27 against and 19 abstentions. It underlines the advantages of 3D printing for the economy and society, the production status achieved by 3D printing in various sectors and the need for new rules supporting faster certification for parts in the manufacturing process.
IP rights and business applications
Nevertheless, the resolution also calls for the European Commission to consider a potential revision of the Liability and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) regulatory framework for 3D printing in the EU, and turns its attention to the feasibility of national copyright levy systems for 3D printing. In doing so, it disregards the negative impact of these measures on innovation, as well as significant economic inefficiencies – including the administrative burden that copyright levy systems impose on the development of 3D printing in Europe.
There is no evidence today of 3D printing being used as an easier or favored production method for counterfeit goods.Filip Geerts, CECIMO Director General
“There has been a rapid increase in industry-driven solutions to ensure data protection in the 3D printing process,” CECIMO Director General, Filip Geerts exclusively told us, adding to that, “there is no evidence today of 3D printing being used as an easier or favored production method for counterfeit goods. Increasing regulatory intensity at this stage would only be detrimental for the European manufacturing sector.”
In its statement, CECIMO approves that the European Parliament recognizes the added value of 3D printing and its technological, economic and environmental benefits for Europe. The association also urges the European Institutions, however, to firmly differentiate between business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) uses of the technology, when approaching 3D printing from a regulatory perspective. 3D printing production methods are already subject to a high level of requirements in the sectors where this production method is applied.
The need for shade regulation in any new industry segment is clear as it is clear that any new beneficial technology could be limited in its growth by shortsighted regulatory approaches. This is a comment trend for any new technology and could be particularly challenging in AM, especially with other geographical areas – such as Asia and the US – rapidly accelerating their use and adoption of additive manufacturing, often facilitated by lean and precise regulatory approaches.
Today Europe has a key position in several segments of the 3D printing market world-wide, leading the word in metal AM technologies and overall AM adoption for advanced applications. For the full adoption of the technology to take place across the continent, it is of the utmost significance to avoid new regulatory actions on liability and IPR, which would stifle innovation and slow down the uptake of 3D printing in EU countries.
The adoption of this Resolution requires a mandatory response within three months from the European Commission, which has been requested to outline its views and intentions on this topic. CECIMO will continue to engage closely with European Commission officials to raise the message that the current patchwork of liability and IPR rules is already fit for purpose in the European 3D printing landscape.