What Will Happen When 4D Printing Hits Design Town? Copyright and Design Law Perspectives
Forthcoming in B. Pasa (ed.) Il Design, L”Innovazione Tecnologica e Digitale (ESI Press, 2020)
12 Pages Posted: 6 May 2020 Last revised: 26 May 2020
Date Written: January 25, 2020
3D and 4D printing may forever change the design landscape. 3D printing or additive manufacturing allowed designers to create three-dimensional objects from two-dimensional digital files. The process raises many copyright- and design-related questions, and a few law suits ensued as soon as 3D printing became more widely available. 4D printing is based on 3D printing technology, but it adds a fourth dimension – time. It uses special materials that are able to change shape or function after the production of a work. The change in the object’s shape occurs through stimuli (such as temperature or water). 4D printing requires appropriate 4D software and smart materials –both of which are still in its infancy in terms of research and development – but this technology holds great promises to several industries, including the design industry. While copyright and design laws might still be able to accommodate, to a certain extent, the activities and results inherent to 3D printing, the non-permanent character of 4D printed objects might represent a challenge to current laws. This article begins by providing an overview of the current legal status of 3D printing. It follows to discuss the legal challenges that might be presented to 4D printing designers, and it concludes by analysing the impact of 4D printing on the legal protection of designs.
Keywords: 3D printing, 4D printing, copyright, design, law, intellectual property
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