Open up new possibilities for your business by changing the way you think about developing products. Compared to traditional methods, 3D printing offers significant advantages for better products with optimized designs.
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Get better results by removing steps and complexity in your workflow, and get real-time, hands-on customer feedback from close-to-production prototypes. Then, get parts on the shelves with low-volume production using our robust technologies.
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3D print designs
An associated (online) market for 3D printing designs has also developed. Consumers and businesses can download a product design specification that allows them to then make the product on their own 3D printer or have it printed at a commercial 3D printing facility. However, consumers (or businesses) obtaining 3D printing designs online may not be able to assess the safety of the intended end-product.
The supply of product designs (by sale or free download) does not appear to be covered under existing ACL product safety provisions. While manufacturers and other suppliers are obliged/required under the ACL to provide safe and/or compliant products, at present there are no provisions that address the possibility that a 3D print designer can supply (intentionally or otherwise) designs for consumer products that are unsafe.
Applying the ACL’s misleading and deceptive provisions, as discussed in the blog article Product safety game changer, may not apply to supply of product designs.
Design is widely accepted as being the primary determinant of a product’s safety. Provisions in the ACL (including potentially a general safety provision) dealing with supplying product designs would enable remedial action where necessary. It would also help motivate and educate designers on factoring safety into their designs.
Product bans – these currently cover around 20 product types and serve to protect consumers from known hazards by regulating products sold. If a 3D print design was available for a product that was non-compliant with a ban, the ACL does not currently appear to allow government intervention.
Mandatory standards – these currently cover around 40 product types and also serve to protect consumers from known hazards by imposing standards on products sold.
Mandatory standards are defined as meaning a standard for the goods ‘or anything related to the goods’. This may allow mandatory standards to include designs for the products it covers, but this is so far untested.
Alternatively, it may be simpler to insert a general provision that says any designs sold/supplied for products that are subject to a mandatory standard must be such that they provide for compliant end-products.
(The current suite of mandatory standards do not include reference to product designs and this should be factored into any standards reviews, or preferably inserted proactively).
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Recalls – The definition of consumer goods for recall purposes does not appear to include product designs. The recall provisions in the ACL that require businesses to notify the ACCC when conducting a recall, and allow the government to order compulsory recall should be revised to include the recall of unsafe product designs.
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