China City Asks 3D Printer Makers to Register with Police

Posted Date 10/13/17

The Chinese city of Chongqing has obliged 3D printer making companies to register with the police so the authorities can track production and ensure none of these companies are making illegal or dangerous objects.

While the idea behind the rule is understandable, it’s usually personal 3D printers that are used for potentially harmful objects, so the focus of the rule is misplaced and could harm the local 3D printing industry by discouraging potential clients from using the services of these companies. Clients will be discouraged by the fact that a mot of 3D printing us done on prototypes of designs that may not yet have intellectual property protection in place.

The bigger problem is that controlling personal desktop 3D printers that can be used to make working guns is a very challenging task, which becomes all the more challenging in light of the fact that you don’t even need to buy a 3D printer – you can make your own. And the advances in metal 3D printing will only make it easier to produce a working gun.

3D printing drugs is also a potential problem and so is identity theft. 3D printers can produce a replica of a human face so realistic that it can fool face recognition software. In such a context, perhaps linking a face with its owner’s phone, bank account, or anything else, might not be such a good idea but that’s what Alibaba and Apple are doing.

On the other hand, some, like machine Design author Jeff Kerns, believe that a software tweak here and an adjustment there can eliminate the danger of someone stealing your face to access your details. That could reduce the threat but is unlikely to eliminate it entirely. After all, as all cybersecurity experts warn, businesses and organization need to continuously up their game because attackers are doing the same thing.

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