Consumer level 3D printers are now available and increasingly affordable. Officeworks for instance sells The Cube printer for under $700 in Australia. Prices overseas are even cheaper and generally on a downward trend.
This means that people can now manufacture products in their own homes. However, the systems that work to keep products safe in mass production are not all present in the consumer 3D printing world.
At the Inside 3D Printing Conference Melbourne 2015, members of the 3D printing community will be urged to think about consumer product safety.
I will be addressing the conference on Tuesday 22 May 2015 highlighting issues identified in my white paper 3D Printing and Consumer Product Safety.
While there are some clear benefits, there are also a number of challenges.
As with all product safety measures, each sector needs to play a part. A raft of strategies is needed from within the 3D printing industry, the supply sector, governments, educators and consumers.
The white paper contains a number of recommendations for action to address the challenges.
Recommendations for the 3D printing industry (and its supporting organisations) are that it should:
- make consumer product safety a priority for its growing market
- support and educate its customers in product safety – including prosumers*, new product supply businesses and 3D print shops
- work with product design developers and design schools to support safe design
- monitor the safety of feedstock/filament available for use in consumer product 3D printers and actively manage the risks
With the consumer 3D printer market growing rapidly, those in the business of supplying 3D print designs, 3D printers and consumables will need to be careful about product safety.
* In the 1980 book, The Third Wave, futurologist Alvin Toffler coined the term “prosumer” when he predicted that the role of producers and consumers would begin to blur and merge. The term seems very apt for consumer 3D printing.
See related media release dated 22 May 2015