For as long as cars have existed, three fundamental truths appeared to be eternal. First, every car contains safety critical components, second these components are mostly metal and third, they are manufactured by one of two methods—stamping or cold forming. These eternal truths always led to an equally durable legal reality, that if the safety critical component fails the manufacturer will be liable to the injured party. It’s hard to think of a more trite and dependable set of principles. But these timeless precepts are about to become disrupted as the automotive industry continues to explore the innovation of 3D printing.
With each passing year, the long-predicted aspirational advantages of 3D printing in the life sciences industry become a reality. Forecasts of large scale printing operations at or near major hospitals are fulfilled. Visions of bioprinted organs have become a reality. 3D printing is reaching the lofty potential projected by the life sciences industry years ago. However, the topic of litigation risks with 3D printing in the life science industry is often overlooked. […]
Yet, the widespread use of additive manufacturing by companies and individuals outside of the life sciences industry also underscores the potential litigation risks with 3D printing.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) has significantly outpaced the capabilities of the traditional supply chain. Gowns, gloves, facemasks, and face shields are valued commodities that even many healthcare providers cannot secure in this environment. While traditional supply and manufacturing chains struggle to keep up with production, industry leaders have turned to 3D printing, or additive manufacturing technology, to address this dire need. Unlike traditional manufacturing methods, companies with already established additive manufacturing technologies can more readily and efficiently adapt their productions to manufacture such PPE. 3D printing manufacturers may already have the powder or fabric necessary to manufacture PPE. They also have versatile printers. These companies simply need software and product design specifications, which allows them to begin production much more quickly than companies relying on traditional manufacturing methods that require additional raw materials and even machines and equipment.
For example, Superfeet, a shoe insert manufacturer, which typically uses 3D printing for manufacturing its products, was contacted about its ability to assist with a shortage of powered air purifying respirators (PAPR) hoods to hospitals in Washington state. The company had printers and fabric already. In just a few short days, Superfeet was making PPE.
To read the full text of the article by Duane Morris , visit the MD+DI website.
Additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3-dimensional (3D) printing, has been billed as the new industrial revolution. It is a lofty prediction; but we are seeing this prognostication materialize. Everyday consumer products ranging from children’s toys to running shoes are being 3D printed, sometimes right in consumer stores or at home. More and more manufacturers have begun or are exploring additive manufacturing options for their products. 3D-printed products even won an Oscar, when Ruth Carter won Best Costume Design for her work in the movie Black Panther, where portions of Carter’s costumes were 3D printed. From everyday consumer products, to its appearance on the red carpet, 3D printing has arrived.
Recognizing the potential advantages, endless possibilities, and unique manufacturing capabilities offered by 3D printing, more and more medical device manufacturers are entering this new field of technology. However, industry standards and regulations lag behind the pace of innovation. The unique aspects and potential availability of additive manufacturing raise novel products liability issues that may impact traditional product liability litigation doctrines. This article examines the current status of additive manufacturing as well as potential issues and uncertainties it raises for the future of product-liability litigation.