Canadian Underwriter

Risk professionals must look forward to what can be done with 3D printing to get fix on related risks, RIMS attendees hear

April 11, 2016   by Angela Stelmakowich, Editor

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SAN DIEGO – Those in insurance and risk management will need to readjust thinking from what has gone before to what could happen in future to get a firm grasp on the potential risk picture for 3D printing moving forward, Scott Klososky, a partner with consulting firm Future Point of View LLP, suggested Monday during the 2016 RIMS Conference and Exhibition.

RISK“Your comfort zone is typically things that are in the past. You’ve been able to see outcomes, you’ve been able to weigh the risks,” Klososky said to a packed room of risk professionals.

“Now, unfortunately, with technology, especially something like 3D printing, the magic happens going forward,” he suggested. “People experimenting with things that haven’t been done, obviously, this is where the problem happens. The risk comes in when we start experimenting with things that we’ve never done before.”

One risk likely to be part of the picture revolves around competitive timing risk. “In some parts of the economy, you’ve got to learn and do additive manufacturing. If you’re too slow, you will lose market share,” Klososky advised.

Then there is risk around intellectual property. “Instead of it being held in an expert’s mind where the manufacturing gets done, now the intellectual property is held in a file, which means if anybody gets that digital file, if it gets out, somebody hacks into your system,” he said, “you lose the intellectual property.”

But perhaps the “most dangerous risk of all,” Klososky pointed out, is “just product performance risk.”

3D has the potential to change industries in a big way, including manufacturing, he suggested. Why would someone manufacture a part, ship it across the country and incur related shipping costs and take that time? he asked.

It might make more sense to set up a factory where the manufactured part or products are needed, receive the file from elsewhere and print locally.

3D printing, in a manner of speaking, means that within just minutes, “we can literally transport a part across the world,” Klososky told attendees.

The process allows for scanning a part, thereby creating a digital version, cleaning up the file in a CAD system, sending it perhaps thousands of miles away to a manufacturing plant where the materials being used to make the part (substrates) are loaded and then the part is printed locally, he explained.

“You’re talking about changing industries when you can manufacture in that way. You just contract it out and manufacture anywhere in the world,” Klososky suggested.

But, again, risk will be introduced. There is an amazing array of substrates available today, from platinum to silver, gold, aluminum, bronze, different kinds of plastic and wax. Still, when used to construct things or parts used in something else, “every one of these introduces structural failure risk. When you make these parts or these structures, if the substrate is flawed in any way, if the substrate doesn’t melt in the proper way, you can get structural failure,” he explained.

Who is at risk if something goes wrong, Klososky asked. “Is it the manufacturer of the 3D printer? Is it the manufacturer of the substrate?”

“We probably haven’t even begun to understand the amount of risk we’re going to have when we switch from traditional manufacturing techniques, which we understood because they were in the past, to these newer manufacturing techniques, which we don’t really understand,” he suggested to attendees.

The technology opens the door to being able to “customize things or build parts with new substrates,” Klososky said. “So to create with sugar or to create with plastics or metals something that has never been created with that form factor before. Think about the fact that we can print parts that literally cannot be made today,” he pointed out.

Things are moving very quickly at the consumer level as well, Klososky said. “Consumer-level 3D printing is getting less and less expensive and substrates are getting better and better, the STL (standard tessellation language) files are getting more and more plentiful,” he explained.

“One of the things that’s fascinating about technology is, as human beings, when we envision something, we often make it come true,” he said. “As soon as we can see it in our minds, we’re that much closer to actually making it happen.”

Klososky asked attendees to consider something like Amazon, where a person can order pretty much anything and it is delivered the next day. “We love the speed; you can order something and it’s there,” he said. “Twenty, 30 years from now, Amazon will seem like the dark ages,” he suggested.

“Technology is such a fascinating world, but like I said, every time there is something new we have to pioneer, we increase the risk,” Klososky added.

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