Archive for January 2016

3D Printing Changes the Game

Many believe that 3D printing is more of a fringe tech-enthusiast’s game than a real industry disrupter… and they’re completely wrong.

A variety of car manufacturers have begun to 3D print small, specialized car parts, and it’s only a matter of time before 3D printing technology advances to the point that larger objects can be built for cheaper.

“In the coming year, we are going to see 3D metal parts being flight-tester in real applications, not just trivial parts, e.g., brackets, hinges, flanges,¬†attached to noncritical components,” stated Tim Simpson, professor of mechanical engineering at Penn State.

Simpson isn’t alone in noticing that additive manufacturing-manufacturing in which parts are created through layering of materials- is actually less faster and less expensive that the more conventional subtractive manufacturing in which a product is made by cutting or pressing it out of a material.

“Meanwhile, companies that don’t get into the game will start to lose employees to those that are readily using AM, which will create a further divide between companies that want to do AM and those that can do AM,” Simpson continued. “Buying a machine is the easier part; learning how to run it well is challenging.”

3d print2Clearly the technology is quickening its pace to the point that companies will soon be competing for mastery over it. But why?

“The use of 3D printing brings professionals from different areas to collaborate, and innovation is a side effect of these collaborations,” explained M. Zuniga. “The main benefits are low cost, speed, versatility and innovation.”

And 3D printing has something to offer to more than the manufacturing world.

“Industries leveraging 3D printing in a sizable way today include dental; smoother medical, such as hearing aids and surgical models; some limited and specific aerospace applications; and then the widely applicable consumer space for education, design and customization of collectibles,” listed Michael Raphael, CEO of Direct Dimensions.

“I look for applications where the design is essentially consistent yet where each of them is unique for some reason… Dental and medical are obvious. Teeth are essentially the same, but each is different. 3D printing shines for these applications because no tooling is required, and you can make them each unique just as easy as you can make them all the same,” he explained.

3d print3“Following this paradigm, I look for adoption in other human body-related products. Medical devices provide a good case, such as orthotics, braces and splints. Other extractions would include protective gear, sports and performance gear, and footwear.”

Raphael did indeed strike gold with the medical field. As Steven J. Hausman, president of Hausman Technology Presentations explained, “Patients have already received 3D-printed jaws, ribs, sternum, teeth, tracheas and skulls… there will be no part of the body that will not be duplicated int he future, ranging from inexpensive customized prosthetics to bioprinted organs using the patient’s own stem cells so that tissue rejection will not be an issue.”

Soon even the gastronomic market will be flooded with 3D printed products: “3D printing has gained traction in the food industry, wherein pasta, candy and other foods can already be printed,” confided Chinh Pham, co-leader of the Greenberg Traurig.

Cybersecurity Injuries Create Unprecedented Issue for FTC

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is unsure how to asses the effect on consumers when businesses fail to properly protect their customers from e-commerce related fraud and cybercrime. However the FTC proceeds is sure to have a large impact on its ability to initiate cybersecurity violation cases. The dilemma even has the potential to be taken up by federal courts of Congress to resolve.

The internal issue began when some FTC staff members issued a notice that they were challenging the dismissal of a commission complaint against a private company called LabMD for failing to maintain cybersecurity. The administrative law judge for the FTC ruled in favor of the complain’t dismissal, but the staff now plans to appeal the judge’s decision.

labmdAccording to the complaint, LabMD’s insufficient cybersecurity measures allowed for personal consumer information to be leaked. This complaint was originally dismissed on the grounds that the FTC staff had failed to prove that substantial injury had also befallen the customers whose electronically processed records had been dispersed onto company networks.

LabMD performs diagnostic specimen tests for medical service providers and manages related records for both medical and insurance purposes. According to the concerned staffers, the information leaked involved expert testimony and physics printouts of data.

LabMD’s legal council was happy to hear of the ALJ’s decision, stating that it “confirms what our client, LabMD, has said all along which is that the Federal Trade Commission’s case is meritless.” Daniel Epstein, executive director of the legal council company Cause of Action stated further that the FTC “produced no evidence that even a single patient was harmed by LabMD’s alleged inadequacies… Instead, it was the FTC that victimized LabMD and its employees, and more importantly, the doctors that it served.”

The issue comes down to a question of standards. There was no argument as to whether information was leaked, but rather whether or not harm was done, and at what level of exposure of sensitive information can be seen as legitimately harmful. Harm can be seen as anything from financial injury to inconvenience to embarrassment.

dog doctorThe FTC’s inability to cite a single actual consumer victim after the leak definitely limited the validity of their case. Though they may not win this one, the issue of creating a real-time standard for proving harm and injury in cyberprotection cases has been revealed.

“Importantly the ALJ opined that historically liability for unfair conduct has only been found in instances where there is proof of actual consumer harm,” commented chief privacy officer at Epstein Becker & Green Patricia Wagner. “One of the striking thing about the ALJ’s opinion is his willingness and ability to parse through the evidence, understand what this studies presented demonstrated- and failed to demonstrate- and evaluate the circumstances in a well-reasoned manner. Rather than just assume that a breach automatically means that consumers would be harmed, he evaluated the facts and circumstances at issue in this case.”

Christ Burris of King & Spalding also saw precedent-material in the decision: “The recent LabMD decision serves to highlight that the commission’s cybersecurity authority under the FTC Act is not without limits, and that the commission must prove that specific cybersecurity incidents actually meet the requirements for an unfair or deceptive practice under the statute.”