Policies for Digital Fabrication

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UK and European Policies

Massimo Menichinelli:

"The British government soon followed the same path of the USA government, by announcing to invest £7m of research and development funding into 3D printing in order to increase the country’s competitiveness and bring back manufacturing to UK. Grants for collaborative research and development projects in 3D printing, will be awarded through an open competition run by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council.

The Big Innovation Centre (an initiative from The Work Foundation and Lancaster University launched in September 2011) also published a report on the importance of 3D Printing in October 2012: “Three Dimensional Policy: Why Britain needs a policy framework for 3D” by Andrew Sissons and Spencer Thompson. According to the authors there may be big first mover advantages for countries that adopt 3D printing early, and the UK has an opportunity to lead the world in this area. According to them, as a first steps towards seizing the 3D printing agenda, the government should:

  • Create a 3D printing task force, led by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), able to bring together ideas from business and academia, while coordinating the various levers of government policy;
  • Scope a review of the intellectual property implications of 3D printing, building on the work of the Hargreaves Review;
  • Fund the establishment of more pilot 3D printing workshops, to enable members of the public to experiment with the technology;
  • Develop models for and explore the feasibility of a digital design exchange, analogous to the mooted digital copyright exchange;
  • Provide funding for competitions to develop new materials for 3D printing;
  • Commission research and feasibility studies into possible methods for regulating 3D printing markets, particularly with regard to the production of dangerous items.

And UK will not be the only country to do this: on October 2012 it was known that, according to a leaked paper seen by Reuters, the European Commission is going to ask countries to invest heavily in new technologies such as 3D printing to revive the European Union’s declining manufacturing sector. Singapore as well will invest $500 million over five years to boost Singapore’s skills in advanced manufacturing, including in the rapidly emerging 3-D printing industry.

The paper which outlines the bloc’s future industrial policy said the commission wants to raise manufacturing from 16 percent to 20 percent of EU GDP by 2020 using new techniques such as 3D printing which builds objects using instructions from a printer." (http://www.openp2pdesign.org/2013/fabbing/policies-for-digital-fabrication/)