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Preparing for the Risks of 3D Printing in Manufacturing

In applications ranging from the automotive and aerospace industries to healthcare, food and consumer goods, 3D printing can shorten development cycles, lessen time-to-market and lower the cost of traditional manufacturing. By 2020, the global market for 3D printing hardware, supplies and services is estimated to reach $17.2 billion.1

But while the technology’s potential to revolutionize manufacturing has been well documented, the risks are not as well defined. In some cases, 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, brings uncharted risks including cyber and intellectual property risks. Every party in a global supply chain should understand the liabilities involved in 3D printing and be prepared to minimize them.

“Should a 3D printed part or food cause injury or illness, it could result in a financially devastating lawsuit,” says Mike Thoma, Global Technology Chief Underwriting Officer at Travelers. “Therein lies the challenge: The field is so new, no one is sure how liable they really could be.”

Following are four key risk categories for 3D printing that technology companies should understand, and an illustrative risk scenario for each category.

Property Damage Risk

If a 3D printed object causes property damage due to a defect or a failure to function as intended, it could lead to a lawsuit. Any company or individual involved in the product’s manufacturing or distribution chain could find themselves named as a defendant. Read More

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