Executive Briefings

What Product Liability Standard Should Apply to 3-D Printed Products?

As with any emerging technology, such as 3-D printing, the law hasn't kept pace. Strict liability - one of three product liability theories which hold manufacturers liable for injuries caused by a defect, regardless of fault - may be difficult to apply in cases of 3-D printed products, given the uniqueness of the technology and the fact that numerous actors are involved in the production chain.

What Product Liability Standard Should Apply to 3-D Printed Products?

"There is no longer just one manufacturer and designer with this technology," said James Beck, counsel at Reed Smith LLP in Philadelphia, whose practice includes product liability and 3-D printing.

The Food and Drug Administration in August 2015 approved the first-ever 3-D printed prescription drug: Aprecia Pharmaceuticals Co.'s SPRITAM, which treats epileptic seizures and rapidly disintegrates with a sip of liquid. General Electric Aviation plans to acquire two 3-D printer manufacturers, Arcam AB and SLM Solutions Group AG, for $1.4bn and aims to build a $1bn 3-D printing business by 2020. GE Aviation has introduced 3-D printed fuel nozzles for its LEAP jet engines into airline service and plans to print 40,000 of them by 2020.

Healthcare and aerospace currently are the two main fields for 3-D printing, but the technology is making its way into several other industries, including automobiles, electronics and food.

The technique is booming despite the fact that it's unclear what product liability standard to apply to 3-D printed products. As more 3-D printed products are invented, courts eventually will have to tackle the question.

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"There is no longer just one manufacturer and designer with this technology," said James Beck, counsel at Reed Smith LLP in Philadelphia, whose practice includes product liability and 3-D printing.

The Food and Drug Administration in August 2015 approved the first-ever 3-D printed prescription drug: Aprecia Pharmaceuticals Co.'s SPRITAM, which treats epileptic seizures and rapidly disintegrates with a sip of liquid. General Electric Aviation plans to acquire two 3-D printer manufacturers, Arcam AB and SLM Solutions Group AG, for $1.4bn and aims to build a $1bn 3-D printing business by 2020. GE Aviation has introduced 3-D printed fuel nozzles for its LEAP jet engines into airline service and plans to print 40,000 of them by 2020.

Healthcare and aerospace currently are the two main fields for 3-D printing, but the technology is making its way into several other industries, including automobiles, electronics and food.

The technique is booming despite the fact that it's unclear what product liability standard to apply to 3-D printed products. As more 3-D printed products are invented, courts eventually will have to tackle the question.

Read Full Article

What Product Liability Standard Should Apply to 3-D Printed Products?