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3D printers growth as a consumer product could make it tough to regulate

Posted: 10:31 PM, Aug 01, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-02 02:31:13Z

FORT MYERS, Fla. - The debate about 3D-printed guns has been a hot button issue recently. The growth of 3D printers as a consumer product could raise some questions on how the plastic products could be regulated.

3D printers are also very attainable and affordable nowadays.

"We can buy a 3D printer online, at Best buy," Scott Kelly from Florida Gulf Coast University told 4 In Your Corner. "They're accessible and you can have them at home," he added.

Kelly broke down the technology behind 3D printers. He wasn't as sure about what the potential guidelines would look like for what the printers produce.

"I'm not certain how the laws are going to interact with 3D printer technology," he said.

Kelly compared the difference between potential regulations with 3D-printed products with drones. He said drones at first were ahead of the law, but legislation caught up.

"The Federal Aviation Administration was already there," Kelly explained. "They had a regulating body that existed," he added.

However, there isn't a governing body yet for 3D printers.

"A body is going to have to form in order to regulate what can and can't be printed," Kelly said.

Kelly said the need for one might come sooner rather than later. Thingiverse is a site that shares 3D print-ready models for users to download right to their own printers.

"Creators can upload whatever they want and it's readily available," Kelly said. "I don't even have to sign in. I can just send it right to my 3D printer," he added.

Kelly wanted to focus on the positive things 3D printers could create.

"You don't even need to ship them," Kelly said. "You can just send the file to someone on the other side of the world and they can print it with their 3D printer," he added.