Study I – which is the first of a two-part Study, considers the implications for intellectual property law, particularly copyright law, as a result of online sharing platforms dedicated to 3D printing. As such, this Study applies a legal and empirical analysis, to provide a clearer understanding of ‘how’ the sharing happens to provide an understanding of the ‘parameters’ for sharing, e.g. terms and conditions, rules, regulations that apply, together with restrictions and bounds that apply to user behaviour and file-sharing.

The shift in manufacturing capability has raised questions relating to intellectual property law. 3D printing now paves the way for modified, replicated and changed parts which could then be shared, used and sold. This clearly has implications for intellectual property owners.