Current discussion on legal and technical aspects at the Association of German Engineers – part I

discussion on legal and technical aspects at the Association of German Engineers

In this article an insight is given into the work of the technical committee 105.5 (FA 105.5) named ‘Legal Aspects of Additive Manufacturing’, which was formed within The Association of German Engineers (Verein Deutscher Ingenieure or ‘VDI’) in 2016. This technical committee is comprised of legal experts, engineers, technicians, scientists and company managers working in the sector of advanced manufacturing. Jointly, they analyse technical challenges as well as processes in the value chain of additive manufacturing with regard to legal implications that accompany production. This is part one in a series of three.

By Klaus M. Brisch, LL.M. and Marco Müller-ter Jung, LL.M., DWF Germany 

It is important that experts in the field of additive manufacturing collaborate at the interface of technique and law in order to gain a comprehensive knowledge. On the one hand, engineers learn about legal implications in 3D printing. On the other hand, lawyers for whom a deep knowledge of technical processes in the value chain is indispensable are consequently able to advise companies on their specific legal issues comprehensively and thoroughly.

The Technical Standardisation Body: VDI

More than 160 years ago, VDI was founded and since then it has become a driving force for new technologies and technical solutions. With over 155,000 personal members, VDI is the largest technical-scientific association in Germany. VDI is considered a stakeholder for its members; namely engineers and natural scientists. On the level of national politics, VDI represents its interests but also operates internationally with transnational umbrella organisations such as FEANI or WFEO.

Every year, more than 12,000 experts are contributing technical-scientific knowledge to standardisation processes to improve technical guidelines and thereby establishing Germany as a reputable hub for technology. To this extent, VDI has established a set of technical regulations consisting of approximately 2,000 applicable VDI standards covering the broad field of technology.

Furthermore, VDI offers a large number of services, e.g. professional, technical and continuing education events (especially for engineering and technical purposes), individual consultancy, insurances and technical publications.

The Technical Committee of Additive Manufacturing

The honorary contributors of the VDI technical committee ‘Additive Manufacturing’ were pioneers when founding the technical committee ‘Rapid Prototyping’ in 2003 (today called ‘Additive Manufacturing’) and when publishing the guideline VDI 3404 (today called VDI 3405) in 2009, thus establishing the first technical standard worldwide for additive manufacturing. Consequently, new technical committees were founded as subcommittees of ‘Additive Manufacturing’ (FA 105) to work on guidelines regarding sub-aspects of additive manufacturing and publish them in a set of guidelines under VDI 3405. These technical committees deal with ‘Plastics’ (105.1), ‘Metals’ (105.2), ‘Construction Recommendations’ (105.3), ‘Public Relations’ (105.4), ‘Legal Aspects of Additive Manufacturing Processes’ (105.5) and ‘Safety when operating with Additive Facilities’ (105.6).

The honorary contributors of these committees are mainly experts from constructors of additive manufacturing facilities and industrial users of this technique, as well as representatives of service providers, universities and research institutes. This broad scope seeks to ensure that the committee considers substantial questions from various angles.

Common targets are, for instance, elaborating and updating the VDI guideline 3405 titled ‘Additive Manufacturing Processes – basics, definitions, processes’, amending certain specific technical sets of regulations, observing latest developments and processes relevant to the industries in which additive manufacturing is used, as well as initiating work on respective guidelines and ensuring the exchange of knowledge in the field.

Guideline VDI 3405 provides a detailed description of the different processes and an overview of the different additive manufacturing processes, their function, and their typical field of usage.

Part II of this article will appear online in week 32.