Are 3D Printers Illegal?

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

It is impossible…

x
How to Get Started with a 3D Printer

To track every country and their laws for or against 3D printing. You would have to check with the authorities or a good lawyer experienced in technology to get all the laws governing the state or country you live in.

Also, the main concern is not their illegality but how many of these devices will be used for illegal activity. That latter one is harder to assess and control than the former topic.

To find out if 3D printing is illegal or not, just continue to read our article. It provides the information you need to stay on the right side of the law.

Are 3D printers illegal?

This is another case where the law has not been able to keep up with technology. No one had the foresight to think about what would happen as 3D printing reached the public even though inventors, government officials and other leaders have experienced the same phenomenon before.

One would think that they would take the right steps before 3D printers were made accessible to the common family. As it stands, 3D printers are not illegal but there are certain things that some people use these printers for that are against the law.

While in its purest form 3D printers and some printing are not illegal there are objects that are illegal if printed out on one of these modern printers. So you can buy and use a 3D printer as long as you do not print out illegal items.

AdobeStock 219152517 1

What items are illegal to print out

There are many different lists on the internet and they do not always agree. Here is a set of objects you cannot print on your 3D printer. If you do, you may face jail terms or even fines. It will be up to the individual states as to what punishment you face

Illegal itemExplanation
Working gunsEspecially if they hold 10 rounds of ammunition or more. Assault weapons are illegal to print out as well
Car logosIn the 2D state no one cares but the 3D format ha the different car companies losing thousands of dollars with every unofficial purchase
Patent designsStealing other people’s ideas is no laughing matter. If you are caught doing this expect to pay a big fine
Handcuff keysThis is something that the police do not like and having a prisoner escape custody because they had a handcuff key is embarrassing.
DrugsNot just those drugs that are already illegal but also legal vaccines you get from your doctor. The economical impact of this illegal activity will be huge
Gun magazineFor non assault weapons. These are made from plastic and work like a real gun magazine especially when placed in a 9 mil weapon
VirusesForget illegal drugs, spreading a virus can be even more dangerous if in the wrong hands. While it takes a special printer to print viruses, a 3D virus has already been demonstrated. Then it may have legitimate medical uses, there are more illegitimate uses that can wreak havoc on a nation
Human body artsAlthough you may think you are the next Dr. Frankenstein, this aspect of 3D printing is only legal in an authorized research lab
Gun silencersThis is not only illegal to make but if you use low quality materials, you can expect the device and gun to blow up while you are holding it
ATM devicesCriminals are already duplicated card readers and other ATM devices to capture your private financial information
Counterfeit itemsThis can range from designer handbags to phones,laptops and even money. This is easy to do if you have a 3D printer and the right CAD file and the black market industry will be given a boost

Is 3D printing wrong

For some people this is a very black and white issue but for others there seems to be some gray area where they can see how the benefits of 3D printing will help society and the world.


But those gray area positives may be overshadowed by all the illegal activity that can take place by misusing this technology.

  1. Counterfeiting– one of the biggest losers will be all those people who have invented specific tools, parts to machines, clothing etc., An early estimate for property rights losses was $100 billion by 2018. 2 years later it may still be at that level or higher
  2. Forged credentials– when the first publisher for a laser printer showed up on the market, it opened the door to forged credit cards, identity cards, certificates, bills of lading and more. How much more will take place once certain people realize that the paper used to print American money works perfectly in a 3D printer
  3. Personal liability- while not a criminal or illegal act, it is still an issue that has to be examined. No matter where you are on the chain of 3D printing, uploading the design, the victim or the person selling the printed objects, there will be huge personal responsibility to contend with and liability insurance may not cover those incidents.
  4. Criminal acts– for example making a handcuff key and then selling them to multiple offenders so that they can escape custody. That is likely to be seen as aiding and abetting a criminal.
  5. Drug running– the 3D printer will change the way drug lords handle their business. They certainly have the money to get the right 3D printer and materials to produce illegal drugs. Once they do, they can set up shop in any country, state, city or town and not have to worry about distribution anymore.

Some final words

3D printing seems to be opening up an exciting new world for many people. The possibilities that can be printed out also seem to be endless. With the right digital file, printer and materials you can just about make anything and shave the cost of the item to almost 1/4 of the original price.

The question is not are 3D printers illegal but should they be illegal?

Special offer for our visitors

Get your Soldering Iron Guide For DIYERS

We will never send you spam. By signing up for this you agree with our privacy policy and to receive regular updates via email in regards to industry news and promotions