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3D printing

An eye on additive manufacturing

In the next months, a few important issues should be finalised by the European Commission: product liability, intellectual property rights, and US-EU trade deal. European trade association, CECIMO, is actively monitoring these dossiers to cushion the impact on additive manufacturing (AM). 

“Despite these sensitive issues, the AM sector is moving faster towards the development of harmonised standards and we see many actions to fill in the skills gap in Europe. Before the end of the year, additive manufacturing will be centre-stage at the European level. The European Commission should soon publish a new study and guidelines on intellectual property rights and product liability, to relaunch the debate on some significant aspects such as quality standards and the difference between Business to Business and Business to Consumer. We will address policymakers to avoid burdening the sector with unnecessary regulation,” commented CECIMO.

“In the past months, the European Commission opened a public consultation on the Machinery Directive. The consultation was important for the AM industry as it gave us the opportunity to voice the need for harmonised standards. In particular, we called for the development of type-C standard for AM, as it facilitates the compliance of AM machines with the safety requirements of the directive,” added CECIMO.

Another priority for the EU policymakers, according to the association, should be a harmonised qualification and training system. The AM community has been suffering from a shortage of trained workers and it has been asking the European legislators not to overlook this problem. 

“The next European research and innovation programme (Horizon Europe) should include specific solutions and the National Operational Programmes could better promote it. A good example of European cooperation on skills is the EU-funded project, SAM. SAM aims to assess and anticipate skills gaps and shortages in AM, as well as develop a harmonised training system for the European AM sector,” explained CECIMO.

At international level, the US-EU trade agreement on industrial goods listed AM as an area of priority. It grants the sector prestige, but, at the same time, it puts pressure on the counterparts to avoid the application of tariffs, or conformity assessment procedures. Talks are still ongoing, and a deal should be finalised by the end of the year.

Stewart Lane, Chairman of CECIMO’s Additive Manufacturing Committee, remarked that “the debate on the AM sector is still very active and EU policymakers need to layout a supportive and flexible set of rules if they wish to keep leadership of the AM sector in Europe.”

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