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Report highlights insurer concerns over 3D printing technology

The insurance market’s concerns over the complexity of supply chain and product liability issues have been raised in a new report on 3D printing technology.

The report from law firm Mayer Brown, claims the process could transform the insurance market, with insurers needing to develop a deep understanding of their client’s businesses in order to consider the regulatory environment and its impact on the risks they are underwriting.

Risk concerns? Lawyers are warning of complex potential liabilities from 3d printing

Risk concerns? Lawyers are warning of complex potential liabilities from 3d printing

Professional indemnity is another area likely to be affected by 3D printing. According to the report, if a product designer produces a digital file of their design for use in a 3D printer that then goes on to cause damage to property or personal injury because the design was defective the exposure to insurers could be huge. The prevalence of 3D printing and the potential for files to be downloaded a significant number of times also adds to the risks for insurers.

Ingrid Hobbs, Insurance partner at Mayer Brown, said: “Discussions between risk managers on the insurance side and business product developers within the client base they’re looking to insure are so important.”

“Such discussions will allow insurers to ask structured, targeted questions at placement or renewal stage about what a company is doing in relation, not only to developing exciting products through 3D printing but also in relation to protecting itself from possible liabilities and claims arising from the use of 3D.”

Featured picture credit; Creative Commons: Link

About Ralph Savage (137 Articles)
Insurance and legal journalist Ralph Savage has written extensively for the financial and professional services sectors, most notably as News Editor of Post Magazine. He ghost writes regularly on behalf of FTSE 250 CEOs, leading counsel and senior professionals including solicitors, insurers, accountants and brokers.

4 Comments on Report highlights insurer concerns over 3D printing technology

  1. I thought the piece failed to address how 3D printing is different in this regard from any other manufacturing process, especially, if I understood the jest of the article correctly, automated manufacturing such as CNC. Would an issue arising from using a 3D print file not be covered by errors and omissions insurance in a way a set of construction drawings is?

    And, by the way, there’s no DRM in 3D print files yet, so sometimes positively identifying if and who made any changes to the file is impossible. It may be tricky to tell if the issues occurred because of the part’s inherent design flaws (covered by the designer’s insurance, I presume), the customer’s software processing of the 3D print file (STL etc.), any possible edits made be the customer or the customer’s 3D printer’s mis-calibration. I’m sure in cases involving any serious payouts a (very costly) expert opinion will have to be sought which may only be obtained by printing the same part on the same type of printer using the same software, then analyzing the results.

    So, yes, talk about opening a can of worms! 🙂 I don’t really see any obvious solutions for insurance of varying aspects of 3D printing (a.k.a. Additive Manufacturing) here but I’m glad people have started talking about it.

  2. Ralph Savage // 14 May 2013 at 7:03 am // Reply

    Very interesting points Nick – do you have a twitter feed? I’ve RT’d the article once again.

  3. Thanks for asking, Ralph. Sure, the Twitter feed is here https://twitter.com/metal_work
    Cheers!
    Nick.

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  1. Insurers anxious to maintain pace with 3D printing | Insurance Edge

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