Check out this piece from Michael Weinberg of Public Knowledge that points out, with humor and clear logic, that: “Introducing laws that regulate 3D printing before figuring out what 3D printing is will not lead to success.”
Occasionally, lawmakers are motivated more by their desire to get a headline than their desire to make good policy. All of the attention that 3D printing has been getting lately makes it a tempting target for just that impulse.
There have already been a handful of bills at the local, state, and national level introduced with some connection to 3D printing and guns. But a recent bill out of New York City stands out as a shining example of legislating for a headline without taking a moment to understand the substance.
Why is 3D Printing in this Bill?
The bill, introduced by New York City Council Members Lewis A. Fidler, Letitia James, Margaret Chin, Domenic M. Recchia, Jr., Leroy Comrie, Mark Weprin, Annabel Palma, Helen D. Foster, Gale A. Brewer, Maria Del Carmen Arroyo, Inez E. Dickens, Robert Jackson, Andy King, Peter A. Koo, G. Oliver Koppell, Brad S. Lander, Rosie Mendez, Deborah L. Rose, and Albert Vann is four pages long but you can stop at the beginning. It starts by adding a new definition to the administrative code of the city of New York. That definition is for “Three-dimensional printer”:
“A computer-driven machine capable of producing a three-dimensional object from a digital model.”
Why does this definition betray shameless headline chasing on behalf of Council Members Fidler, James, Chin, Recchia, Comrie, Weprin, Palma, Foster, Brewer, Del Carmen Arroyo, Dickens, Jackson, King, Koo, Koppell, Lander, Mendez, Rose, and Vann? A 3D printer is “a computer-driven machine capable of producing a three-dimensional object from a digital model,” isn’t it?
Sure. But so is every other modern manufacturing machine. A CNC mill fits that definition. As do laser cutters. So do industrial arms that build cars on assembly lines. And robots. And, for that matter, automated crochet knitting machines….