Additive Manufacturing is one of the fastest growing industries in the UK with new risk exposures becoming apparent very regularly as the industry develops.
WAIB possess in house expertise of the management of risks within this industry and have identified shortfalls in the products available in the regular insurance market. Important exposures can be excluded and standard cover can be inadequate to meet the needs of the industry.
Additive Manufacturing processes require much greater energy than the equivalent conventional manufacturing processes. For example, 3D printing can use up to 100 times more energy than conventional injection moulding, and with direct laser metal deposition versus traditional casting processes the multiple is even greater.
This energy requires upgraded mechanical and electrical installations in the production facilities. These are more vulnerable to failure due to the increased loads and can also impact on other areas of the business; the risk of electrical fire is increased, and the business’ vulnerability to loss of income as a result of interruption to its power source is much higher.
In the same way that health risks from manufacturing materials such as asbestos were only discovered many years after exposure, there are still many unknowns about the emissions from the 3D printing process.
The Institute of Technology has stated that emissions from a desktop 3D printer is compatible to that of a burning cigarette. Whilst this is not fully proven, the creation of fine plastic particles should be seriously considered in relation to respiratory health. There may also be many other potential exposures to fumes and airborne particles. The long term considerations are still an unknown and management of such exposure is critical.
The potential establishment of gun factories with weapons printed by 3D printers has already been identified by security forces around the world.
Effective weapons have already been created and are an attractive proposition due to the difficulty in detection when carried as they may not contain metal parts. US law bans such guns and similar legislation will no doubt be put in place around the world.
Facilities with the ability to print sophisticated weapons will need to consider the security implications. Liability arising from inadequate security, particularly in respect of the investigation and legal costs of potential future prosecutions need to be managed and insured where possible.
As the availability of additive manufacturing facilities increase, so do the possibilities of the production of counterfeit products. These may be of inferior quality and sold as genuine articles which are a clear exposure to losses for an OEM manufacturer.
A manufacturer may be forced to deal with legal action taken against them for alleged breach of intellectual property rights and patents. Equally they may want to take enforcement action themselves for a breach by a third party. Proper insurance arrangements will defend actions and provide the appropriate strength and ability to pursue offending manufacturers.
Third Party Liability
As the additive manufacturing industry continues to grow so will its range of manufactured products. However many of these products are largely untested for longevity, durability and effectiveness.
There is a need for liability insurance that understands the potential future issues and provides the appropriate cover for both product and design risk.
The Next Step
WAIB, using their in house expertise, are developing a range of insurance products to address the unique issues faced by this developing industry. We can provide a bespoke programme of insurance covers to suit the individual and unique needs of any industry member, and at a competitive price.
Please call to speak to one of our expert consultants for more information on 01604 904001.