There is general consensus that 3D printing has potentially revolutionary implications for industry and, along with it, for the law. In terms of products liability law, its consequences for industry and consumers injured by 3D-printed products are potentially just as far-reaching.
Consider a fact pattern under which an auto parts manufacturer makes CAD files available to auto parts stores so that they may 3D print replacement auto parts on demand and on-site in response to customer needs. An auto parts store sells the 3D-printed part to a customer, who later is involved in an accident and blames the 3D-printed part for causing the accident.
In this fact pattern, the injured consumer may have recourse against the auto parts manufacturer and the auto parts store, although the manufacturer and store are likely to have agreements with indemnification and liability provisions. The injured consumer may even have recourse against the company that manufactured the 3D printer if there is evidence that it malfunctioned in an unreasonable and unforeseeable way.
But now consider this fact pattern: A company in China uploads a CAD file for the 3D printing of a replacement auto part and offers it for sale; an individual in the United States purchases the CAD file and 3D prints the replacement auto part at a local store that prints from customer files; the individual then sells the 3D-printed auto part to another, who then is involved in a car accident and blames the 3D-printed part for causing it.Read More…