Proponent seeks an exemption for users of 3D printers that are protected by control technologies when circumvention is accomplishes solely for the purpose of using non-manufacturer approved feedstock in the printer. The technological protection measure (“TPM”) can vary from machine to machine, but can be broadly defined as a software-reliant verification method that prevents the printer from accepting non-manufacturer-approved feedstock.
3D printing, or additive manufacturing, refers to a family of technologies that can be used to build physical objects from digital files. While the precise technologies used to achieve this process vary, all make use of consumable feedstocks in order to build the object. This is similar to the way that traditional 2D printing technologies vary, but all 2D printers rely on some sort of consumable input (such as toner) in order to print images and words on the page.
Many 3D printer manufacturers also sell feedstocks, or maintain an authorized network of feedstock vendors. In some cases manufacturers use TPMs, such as verification chips, in order to prevent printers from using non-approved stocks. This exemption would allow users of 3D printers to make use of feedstocks of their choice without fear of violating 17 U.S.C. § 1201. While copyright-protected software is involved in the verification process, it is incidental at best to the larger activity of allowing users of 3D printers to make use of the feedstock of their choice.