Right to re-print: What role could 3D printing have in right to repair?

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Following new EU legislation, how might 3D printing have the potential to redefine how spare parts are controlled and supplied?

With right to repair legislation now requiring manufacturers across Europe to supply replacement parts for select white goods and electricals over 10 years, Paul Ruscoe, New Business Development Director at 3D printer developer Photocentric, shared that this creates a challenge for manufacturers who will be required to stock parts they may not need. “The flexibility of AM provides a solution to this problem. Parts that are often required will be held in stock, but parts which are required less frequently can be held digitally, with small production runs printed on-demand.”

Another Industry voice -Phil Reeves- recounted: “The right to repair thing is going to be really interesting in that, yes, we have a right to repair but where does the liability sit if you take the choice of repair? Because unless the part was initially designed to be made by 3D printing, it’s always going to be kind of a Band-Aid.”

Whilst “right to repair” legislation is likely to cause logistical headaches for manufacturers, could the law help in reversing the “throwaway society” trend of the last 60 years by creating goods that last longer? Mark Dickin, AM & Molding Engineering Manager at Ricoh 3D:“3D printing means the parts which are less in demand can be held digitally. With only a data file needed, why stop at a 10-year guarantee?”