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3D printers - will users become manufacturers?

The current situation and future of additive manufacturing and its effects on product safety and working conditions

Project number: F 2389 Institution: Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) / GWT-TUD GmbH Status: Completed Project


The wide-ranging use of 3D printers and additive manufacturing methods is presenting users and government agencies, such as market surveillance authorities, with new challenges. New areas of application are reported for 3D printers - devices which create three-dimensional workpieces by physically or chemically hardening and melting liquid or solid raw materials - almost every day. The number of commercial and private users is continuously increasing, and the technical development of the 3D printing devices is advancing rapidly. The determination of those who hold the rights to the software and hardware, the transformation from user to manufacturer, and the variety of locations at which these devices are being used have further complicated the legal classification. This new technology requires general consideration and an evaluation in terms of both occupational safety and health, and consumer safety. While some systematic studies have already looked into additive manufacturing and 3D printing from various technical perspectives, an assessment of what will change for the users is yet to have taken place.

This project aims to identify and evaluate the new risks and product safety issues that arise from the use of 3D printers. A basis shall be provided for the compilation of an information booklet addressing the professional and private users of 3D printers and groups associated with the additive manufacturing and the appropriately manufactured products. The research will also consider the legal aspects of the typical current and/or future user-manufacturer constellations, and also systematically prepare and outline the current technological conditions and factors surrounding additive manufacturing.


Unit 2.1 "Basics of Product Safety"

Phone: +49 231 9071-1971 Fax: +49 231 9071-2070

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