You wake up, remember it’s her birthday and realize you forgot to buy a present. So you walk into your office and make a gift using your 3d printer.  

3d printing is revolutionizing manufacturing and leaving 2d answers in its wake regarding the protection of intellectual property (IP). Therefore, the following 3d printing IP issues of 2019 should be given serious thought. 

A Law too Broad?  

When you and millions of others pirate a TV episode, every single one of you broke the law. However, you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than prosecuted. Similarly, it is illegal to 3d print patented objects even if the material is used for non-commercial purposes (Smith, 2017). 

This highlights one of the 3d printing IP issues of 2019 that mirrors the days of Napster: why continue a law that eschews 99.9% of punishable offenses? 

IP May Be Taxed More Because of 3d Printing  

Rand Corporation writer, Dan Irving, calls 3d printers, “factories in a box” (2018, Irving).    

3d printing will cut manufacturing jobs as people print objects from remote locations instead of ordering them from foreign countries. As a result, the government will collect less VAT taxes (EY Global, 2018). To adjust, countries may slap heftier fees on patented and/or copyright IP. 

Plastic Guns

Defense Distributed, a hardware organization, released free blueprints online that allow people to 3d print plastic guns. According to NPR, US district judge, Robert Lasnik, ruled that Defense Distributed must remove its free designs from the internet (Domonoske, 2018). 

However, thousands of other websites freely disseminate this plastic gun data. In addition, Defense Distributed is still allowed to sell the designs (Lindell, 2018). In the case of Defense Distributed, why is IP disallowed from being obtained for free but allowed to be sold? 


Domonoske, C. (2018). Federal Judge Extends Order Blocking 3D Gun Blueprints From Internet. Retrieved from:

EY Global. (2018, April 26). In a world of 3D printing, how will you be taxed? [Web log post] Retrieved from:–how-will-you-be-taxed

Irving, D. (2018, May 8). 4 Ways 3D Printing May Threaten Security [Web log post] Retrieved from:

Lindell, C. (2018, September 26). Austin man says he’s selling 3D-printer gun plans despite court order. Statesman. Retrieved from:

Smith, A. (2017). From IP Goals to 3D Holes: Does Intellectual Property Law Provide a Map or Gap in the Era of 3D Printing? Journal of Intellectual Property Law, 25(1), 90. Retrieved from:

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