First-of-its-kind Graduate Course at Penn State Tackles Legal Issues in Additive Manufacturing

First-of-its-kind Graduate Course at Penn State Tackles Legal Issues in Additive Manufacturing

Bright AM

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Last week I read an article about a well-known pop artist being sued by a relatively unknown musician for piracy (music for which the rights owners (composer, recording artist, or copyright-holding record company) did not give consent. The lesser known musician was rewarded a multi-million-dollar settlement.


When you have the freedom to create anything, how do you protect your creation from piracy whether it be a design, (corporate logo), hardware, software, movies and videos, etc.? Or, how do you ensure that you are not violating an existing AM intellectual property?


A one-man designer can now become a one-stop shop AM manufacturer by moving from design to production via 3D printing and selling products. Now you’re taking on manufacturing responsibility/liability.


Additive Manufacturing use brings with it other unique complex legal issues involving materials, processes, equipment and environment. To name a few:


Liability for defective or dangerous products -Insurance firms may need to reassess the risks associated in providing cover to Product Designers and Manufacturers/ Suppliers using additive manufacturing equipment.


Environmental liability- Impacts from construction and operation of an AM machine as well as powder production.


Health and safety– Metal AM production involves the use of potentially-reactive metal powders that could ignite or explode under standard production conditions. Equipment or metal powder containers or repositories that are not grounded or otherwise isolated from electrostatic discharge may be vulnerable to static causing fire or explosion.


Cyber-security -In the digital age, with the dependence on sharing digital files throughout the manufacturing process, each phase of production is now a potential .


Because legal issues surrounding AM-3D printing remain unanswered and will only continue to grow in complexity, Penn State College of Engineering offered its first graduate course this past summer to address these issues. “The Course aims to prepare students to be thought leaders, technical experts by exploring intellectual property implications in additive manufacturing. We have to prepare our students for those challenges, especially when they take on leadership roles within companies seeking to exploit AM,” states Timothy W. Simpson, Director of Penn State’s Additive Manufacturing and Design (AMD) graduate program.The program integrates graduate coursework across multiple departments, including mechanical engineering; industrial and manufacturing engineering; engineering science and mechanics; materials science and other related disciplines.


If you are interested in learning more about this course visit: