3D Printing of Consumer Goods: How it will Impact Product Safety - New White Paper

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3D printers for home use allow anyone to make their own consumer products, or sell them. Product Safety Solutions has published a White Paper exploring how 3D printing will impact consumer product safety and how to address the issues.

The consumer 3D printer market is growing rapidly, as seen at this month’s International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, USA.

In the same way that anyone can now sell goods online, 3D printing will allow anyone to make products.

What impact will this have on consumer product safety? Product Safety Solutions Director, Gail Greatorex, has written a blog article and White Paper exploring the issues. http://productsafetysolutions.com.au/3d-printing-product-safety

Impact on product safety:

While 3D printing brings some potential product safety benefits, such as easier prototyping and customised (so more comfortable) protective gear, it also presents some challenges:

➢    New entrants into design, production and supply will not be experienced or aware of product standards, regulations or ways of reducing hazards

➢    Both physical and chemical hazards may be created in products through home and small business 3D production

➢    Pop-up factories and suppliers may become prevalent in the market, including some rogue operators

➢    Incorrect parts created for existing products may render them unsafe

➢    The quality of raw materials may be not be subject to checks

3D printing:

Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing uses a data model to build successive layers of raw material, such as plastic, until a 3D shape is made.

Up till now, the role of 3D printing in consumer products has been mostly limited to modelling and prototypes. But the world is opening up for designers, producers and consumers themselves.

The rise of the ‘Prosumer’:

Gail Greatorex said “People will increasingly be able to own their own 3D printer at home, which will allow them to manufacture objects of their own design, or from a design downloaded from online.”

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.

“This term seems very apt for consumer 3D printing”, Ms Greatorex said.

A call to action:

“As with all product safety measures, all sectors need to play a part in addressing the issues raised by this new phenomenon. A raft of strategies is needed from within the 3D printing industry, the supply sector, governments, educators and consumers”, Ms Greatorex said

For more detail - read Product Safety Solutions’ white paper, which contains a range of strategies and recommendations to help all relevant players get consumer product safety squarely on the 3D printing agenda.

About Gail Greatorex

Gail Greatorex is a passionate advocate for product safety and good product design. Gail worked in consumer product safety with the Australian government for 25 years, mostly at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. In 2012 she set up her own product safety advisory business.

Gail is presenting on 3D printing at the International Consumer Health and Safety Organisation’s annual symposium in Orlando, Florida on 26 February 2015.

About Product Safety Solutions

Product Safety Solutions is Gail’s business - assisting companies, associations, government agencies, and consumers in product safety and compliance. The business offers guidance in consumer safety standards and bans, product safety compliance, assessing and analysing product hazards, product recall issues, compliance undertakings and other remedies, product testing and certification, technical evidence, and similar business needs.

Product Safety Solutions is based in Melbourne, Australia

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Gail Greatorex
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