There could be several interesting effects on business and society when 3D printers become widespread, and we’ve discussed a few of them in the past, including possible crime, for example. But here’s another one to think about: Customs Control.
Most countries have some level of customs controls, in which imported goods are inspected for legality and sometimes taxed as well. This approach has worked fine for centuries, but things might get a little different in the near future when citizens have access to 3D printers that can reproduce many types of objects.
In fact, as 3D printers get increasingly capable, the breadth of reproducible objects will only increase. Eventually citizens will be able to obtain many arbitrary objects by printing them instead of having them physically shipped across borders.
But this means the objects will not be inspected by customs control. Objects of questionable legality could spontaneously appear within a country’s borders. And they certainly won’t be subject to the traditional tariffs and taxes.
The only item crossing a border in this case is the digital 3D model, and it’s likely impossible to inspect. We can’t imagine a country sealing its electronic borders to perform searches of electronic files.
Could this mean weapons could be “beamed” into another country without the need for smuggling in the future? Could knock-off designs copying brand name items be printed instead of emerging from a manufacturing plant in China? Will cross-border shopping wither?
Due to this and other similar situations, we think an object’s design will become a great deal more important as the number of 3D printers increases.
Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!
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Welcome to Fabbaloo, one of the world’s oldest online news sources for 3D printing news. We’ve been in operation since 2007, where we first started examining the state of 3D printers. These devices are now relatively common among some circles in today’s world, but years ago it was extremely rare to see a 3D printer or even a 3D printed object.
At that time it was challenging to find any 3D printing news, so we decided to make our own site that covered 3D printer news, and even associated technologies like 3D scanning and 3D modeling. Today it is common to find 3D printers in schools, workshops and makerspaces, and you probably have been using 3D printed objects without even knowing they were 3D printed.
Today’s industry has finally taken up the challenge by installing thousands of industrial 3D printers, each producing previously impossible 3D printed parts that make today’s society far more efficient. The aerospace industry in particular has been producing many 3D printed parts, some even for flight critical purposes.
If you want to learn about 3D printers, then there’s no better place than Fabbaloo’s 3D printer news to see the latest happenings.
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