ESRC: Festival of Social Science: Printing the Future: 3D Printing and Intellectual Property

Date: 7th November 2014
Time: 9.30 – 17.30hrs
Location: Bournemouth 

3D Printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a fast growing area gathering attention. The recent rise of low-cost consumer 3D printers have made headlines and raised interesting and complex questions.

However, there is limited understanding and debate on the implications of 3D printing surrounding intellectual property law, economics, policy, society and technology.

As part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Festival of Social Science, Dr Dinusha Mendis, Co-Director of the Centre of Intellectual Property Policy and Management (CIPPM) at Bournemouth University is hosting an event, co-sponsored by the ESRC and the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO), which will bring together industry experts, social scientists, policy makers, lawyers, economists and manufacturers of 3D printing to discuss the latest developments and understand the implications for users and consumers.

The event will also provide the platform for a discussion and peer-review of the IPO Commissioned Report on the Intellectual Property (IP) Implications of 3D printing carried out by researchers at Bournemouth University and Econolyst.

“Learning lessons from the past it is clear that abiding by the law alone will not solve the problem,” explains Dr Mendis. “We need to understand the views of all those involved. A premature call for legislative and judicial action in the realm of 3D printing could stifle the public interest of fostering creativity and innovation and the right of manufacturers and content creators to protect their livelihoods.  Over-hasty introduction of stringent legislation should therefore be avoided.”

3D printing also has the potential to revolutionise manufacturing and encourage innovation.  Phil Reeves of Econolyst, a speaker at this event, says: “3D Printing and associated technologies like 3D scanning have great potential for businesses around the world, For industry to exploit 3D printing it is vital that the IP landscape is fully understood and respected.”

Dr Nicola Searle, economist at the IPO, which is co-sponsoring this event, suggests: “3D Printing is an exciting area of innovation.  We are keen that the IP framework is a catalyst for growth and will watch this space.”

This multi-disciplinary event will be complemented by an exhibition of 3D printing facilities provided by Bournemouth University and Ultimaker – one of the world’s largest 3D printing open-source companies.


Event host

·         Dr Dinusha Mendis, Bournemouth University
Telephone: 01202 961875

Intellectual Property Office

·         Dr Nicola Searle

Telephone: 0207 034 2851

ESRC Press Office

Susie Watts
Telephone: 01793 413119

Aaron Boardley
Telephone: 01793 413122


1. Event: 3D Printing: A Selection of Stakeholder Perspectives
Location: Bournemouth University, 89 Holdenhurst Road, Bournemouth, BH8 8EB
Date: 7 November 2014, 9.30 – 17.30

2. Dr. Dinusha Mendis is Co-Director of the Centre of Intellectual Property Policy and Management (CIPPM) at the Bournemouth University where she is also an Associate Professor in Law, specialising in Intellectual Property Law, in particular copyright law.

3. The 12th annual Festival of Social Science takes place from 1-8 November 2014 with over 200 free events nationwide. Run by the Economic and Social Research Council, the Festival provides an opportunity for anyone to meet with some of the country’s leading social scientists and discover, discuss and debate the role that research plays in everyday life. With a whole range of creative and engaging events there’s something for everyone including businesses, charities, schools and government agencies. A full programme is available at You can also join the discussion on Twitter using #esrcfestival.

4. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funds research into the big social and economic questions facing us today. We also develop and train the UK’s future social scientists. Our research informs public policies and helps make businesses, voluntary bodies and other organisations more effective. Most importantly, it makes a real difference to all our lives. The ESRC is an independent organisation, established by Royal Charter in 1965, and funded mainly by the Government. In 2015 the ESRC celebrates its 50th anniversary.

5. The UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) is the official government body responsible for intellectual property (IP) rights including patents, designs, trade marks and copyright.  It operates and maintains a clear and accessible intellectual property system in the UK, which encourages innovation and helps the economy and society to benefit from knowledge and ideas. The IPO helps people get the right type of protection for their creation or invention.

6. Econolyst is a UK-based Additive Manufacturing & 3D Printing consultancy & research firm working with a broad range of clients across Europe, North America, the Middle East, Far East & Africa.

7. Ultimaker is one of the world’s largest 3D printing open-source companies, and winner of Best Consumer Product and Best Consumer Software at the 2014 3D Print Show Global Awards.