Should IP owners be afraid of 3D printing?

When a new manufacturing method like 3D printing becomes widely commercially viable, it breaks down barriers to market entry for thousands, if not millions of companies. TCT’s pages are full of stories of businesses that owe their success to semi- or fully automated additive manufacturing (AM). Innovative companies enjoy reduced costs for shipment of their creations to markets far and wide. Many other players also use AM to operate on the back of others’ creations.


Websites allowing sharing of CAD designs of physical objects are particularly popular, giving individuals or companies that already have access to AM devices all they need to “print” their own copies of others’ products and creations. Sharing CAD files and creating associated objects in this manner can of course allow private individuals to enjoy hobbies harmlessly, and can even spark creativity in those willing to invest time in creating their own designs.

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