Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Progress in the Making: 3D Printing Policy Considerations through the Library Lens

Libraries nationwide are expanding access to 3D printing. Library makerspaces that offer 3D printing services provide people with the ability to create essentially any object they can imagine. These libraries serve as labs of innovation and experimentation for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to bring new products to market — and for everyone to advance learning and creativity.

As 3D printing becomes more common inside and outside of libraries, it has the potential to transform our society in a number of ways and, in the process, raises numerous new issues for policymakers to consider.

This paper provides a history and overview of 3D printing technology; discusses the potential economic impacts of the growth of the 3D printing industry; outlines the role 3D printing now plays in formal education and libraries; provides an analysis of the policy implications of 3D printing; and offers insight into the role the library community should play as lawmakers, government agencies, companies and the courts craft frameworks for 3D printing activities. The paper’s public policy discussion cuts across a number of issues, including intellectual property, intellectual freedom and individual liberty and product liability.

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