Britain’s Big Innovation Centre (could the name be any more self-explanatory?) recently released a report on “Why Britain Needs a Policy Framework for 3D Printing” (pdf). Is Britain the first to get over the hype of ‘thing-making’ already and move on to create a mass-market industry template for others to follow?
Framing a New Industry
Researchers Andrew Sissons and Spencer Thompson both come from a background of economic studies particularly in the realm of innovation and disruptive technologies. With the rise of 3D Printing Stores, 3D printing ‘illegal’ items, and even the introduction of 3D goods piracy, it comes with no surprise that two researchers with economic backgrounds have proposed a policy of sorts:
“3D printing, and the accompanying revolutions in supply chains, logistics and retail that it could trigger, present a major opportunity for the UK economy. 3D printing has the potential to boost economic growth around the world, and especially in the UK, where it plays to several of the country’s economic strengths.”
Not only is this report perhaps one of the most thorough and intelligently-approached perspectives towards 3D printing today, it highlights how other industries would be affected by a mass-market approach to 3D printing as well as a slew of other deep-dives: what does the future really (really) hold for 3D printing? Who will be using a 3D printer in 30 years and why? Heck, who will be using one in five years? While reading the report, I couldn’t help but re-read certain paragraphs and replace ‘3D Printer’ with ‘Personal Computer’ and pretend I was living in 1972. Of course 3D printing is huge–we all know that–But how huge can it get? Do we love it enough to create our template for future growth? Or are we going to stand back and say ‘whatever happens, happens’? Does everybody need to look up to Britain as we walk down this dimly lit 3D printed tunnel of exciting innovation and possibilities?
What’s Being Proposed?
Specifically, and perhaps most importantly, the report states that the “government must take care not to second-guess or to stifle the 3D printing market, it must demonstrate that it can be proactive and listen to emerging businesses, not just incumbents”. Aside from bringing the government closer to the innovators of today with open ears, the report also states these interesting proposals:
- Create a 3D Printing task force, led by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
- Scope out a review of the intellectual property implications of 3D printing
- Fund the set-up of more experimental pilot 3D printing workshops
- Explore the feasibility of a digital design 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
While the proposed policies are definitely worth the time for a deeper read, the entire report gives perhaps the best summary of 3D printing today and what it means for our future… depending on how we want to create it.
Source: Big Innovation Centre – Three Dimensional Policy: Why Britain Needs a Policy Framework for 3D Printing (pdf)