3D Printers Pose New Challenges to Indian Laws

Technology Top Story

The Indian Penal Code lacks laws to control objects printed using a 3D printer

By Sharathkumar Nair

Bengaluru, Feb. 5, 2019.


The Arms Act of 1959 was introduced with the sole purpose to curb the sale of illegal weapons and to control the violence stemming from it in the country. The Modi government revised the rules for arms possession under the New Arms 2016 rules, making it nearly impossible for a person to possess a gun.

The advent of 3D printing technology has completely changed the landscape of various manufacturing industries. The new 3D printing technology has been a boon for the food and medicine industries, among others. The pharma industries have devised a completely 3D printed pill called ‘Spritam’ which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration of the USA. Human organs are also being printed using this technology.

The 3D printers can print any object by referring to a three dimensional digital model of the object by laying tiny layers of materials until the object is created. This means that if an individual has the blueprint of an object, a 3D printer can print it for them. 3D printers are available for personal use and a printer cost RS 50,000 and above.

In a country like India, where sale or possession of firearms without a proper license is illegal, it is a major challenge for law enforcement authorities to prevent individuals from printing a gun for themselves.

“We don’t have any specific law in Indian Penal Code to penalize individuals who possess or sell guns printed using 3a D printer. Any individual who is found printing guns using a 3D printer can only be booked under IP laws for the patent, copyright, and design law violations.

“Indian law system has still a lot of catching up to do when it comes to newer technologies”, he added.

However, if the individual obtains the blueprint of the gun legally and then prints it, then in this case, the individual cannot be booked under the Arms Act”, says Advocate Karthik.

“3D printing is an innovative piece of technology and should be put for good use. It will revolutionize every aspect of human life once the technology becomes affordable. You can compare 3D printing revolution to the personal computer revolution. How personal computers changed the way humans work. 3D printers will change the way humans live. There are ways in which every technology can be misused. The government should introduce strict laws on objects that can be printed as to control counterfeiting and production of guns and objects that can cause potential damage to human lives,” said Shanmugam S, Manager of 3Ding in Chennai.