Our 3DPIP Futures workshop took place in Singapore on 21 September 2017, with many thanks to the British High Commission in Singapore’s IP Attache, Ms Christabel Koh, who gave the project team a huge amount of assistance in recruiting participants and making logistical arrangements. Thanks as well to the British High Commission which provided some extra funding for this workshop to take place beyond that from the UK IPO.
Singapore was not one of our original research sites, but having been to my first ever industry 3D printing conference there in 2013, I knew already that Singapore was the major 3D printing hub for South East Asia, and a major hub internationally. Doing a horizon scanning workshop there also gives us an additional perspective for the research on potential futures for 3D printing and intellectual property.
So it was with great pleasure that I returned to Singapore to conduct the workshop. It was an IP-filled week leading up to the 3DPIP Futures event, with a major conference on Designs Law hosted by the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law and my own alma mater Oxford University Faculty of Law, where I spoke about some of the 3DPIPFutures project research, and I also presented about the project to a group of Designs Officials from ASEAN IP Offices.
The 3DPIPFutures workshop itself comprised 10 representatives from different stakeholder groups, including the Singaporean government, private legal practice, the 3D printing industry, incumbents from other industries, and university researchers. Medical 3D printing was well-represented by different participants working in this area.
We are still analysing the data we gathered from the Singapore workshop, but I can give a preview just now of some of the findings, from the participants’ engagement at the workshop:
- Participants identified that 3D printing first emerged fairly early in Singapore, around 1996.
- IP issues have not been a major concern for Singapore-based organisations. But IP is gaining importance: Singaporean organisations are filing patents relating to 3D printing in Singapore and in foreign jurisdictions; and Singaporean organisations are analysing developments in digital supply chains and preparing for possible IP-related tensions.
- There is a strong focus on enabling high-end 3D printing at an industrial scale for factories, along with cross-fertilising technological developments including automation and artificial intelligence.
- For medical 3D printing, regulatory approval was viewed as one barrier to adoption, but so was acceptance of the technology by medical professionals including doctors.
- Singapore’s aging population is having an impact on the types of 3D printing activity and research occurring, especially in the medical field.
- 3D printing was viewed as a complementary technology, and not a full replacement, for existing manufacturing techniques.
- There was a feeling that Singapore is somewhat behind other developed economies in Western Europe, East Asia and North America in its adoption and mainstreaming of 3D printing.
Thanks to everyone who gave their precious time to participate in this research and to Lesedi Mashumba (QUT) for research assistance.
Please contact me (angela.daly AT qut.edu.au) with any questions about this work.