In the U.S., we have the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII), opening in Youngstown, Ohio. The center is focused on additive manufacturing and 3D printing, and is the first of 15 institutes to be opened in the U.S. as part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). The program has $70 Million in federal and private funding. We covered the center previously here.

Now, on the eve of the 3D Printshow London 2012, UK-based Big Innovation Center, a spin off of Lancaster University and the Work Foundation, is recommending that the British government review and adopt policies to support the 3D printing industry.

The paper, Three Dimension Policy, outlines the way that 3D printing will impact the UK economy, as well as the challenges and policy gaps that need to be closed. The report authors note that the country must be prepared to navigate massive changes to intellectual property, regulation of dangerous printed items, liability, safety standards, new and suitable materials, and both digital and physical infrastructure.

In the report, the authors emphasize that the growth of the 3D printing industry in the UK will empower business by encouraging customization of products, reducing the need for large inventories, shrinking capital and transportation costs, and limiting environmental impacts.

There was also this nice thought for Shapeways users: “3D printing could significantly increase the market for design services, by placing increased emphasis on the value of design.” The report goes on to say that we are likely to see both a globalized market for design and a rise in localized production, and that “If the customer is able to choose a product design from the internet, with the manufacturing process and materials relatively standardized, design is likely to the be the key selling point for many products.”  

The report cautions that the rise of a globalized design marketplace places extreme strain on the intellectual property laws, which will need to be updated to keep pace with the technology. 

The full report is really fascinating, and provides some great insight into which industries are facing significant disruption as 3D printing matures. Highly recommended reading, check it out.

And since we are in a British mood, here is a sweet 3D printed replica of London’s famous Tower Bridge, by the UK’s own Chalk Studios. 

London's Tower Bridge

Via: Image: Chalk Studios