(219)736-9700 info@davidholublaw.com

Can I Sue Over Defective 3D Printed Car Parts?

I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

Ordering auto parts online has become so easy that even a non-mechanic can do it. It didn’t use to be this way. In years past, you would need to take the broken part to an auto parts store and find a match that worked for your car. Unfortunately, the pandemic put a squeeze on the availability of some parts. This meant finding what you needed in-store or online was more difficult. Then the opportunists stepped in and said, “Hey, we have a solution. We can print 3D parts for you.”

Sure, 3D-printed parts filled the void created by manufacturers failing to process orders for consumers. But who is liable when component parts fail after they are installed in vehicles? Those individuals printing parts are akin to modern-day snake oil salesmen. They will argue that their 3D printed part is just as good, safe, or equivalent to the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) part. It’s at a fraction of the price. If you want a 3D printed shot glass or pencil holder, buy one…but when offered 3D printed auto parts…run away. Your safety is not worth risking.

Those 3D-printed parts are not tested for quality, and no research and development to support the merchantability of those printed parts has taken place. A design code is downloaded from the internet and fed into a computer. The code instructs the printer how to shape the item. And most likely, no application test results are given to show how the part works under load pressure. When the item is installed in place of an actual auto part, it will experience heat/cold, grease, chemical fluids, and motion. All of which can lead to catastrophic failure.

Let’s delve into the types of legal liability that exist for 3D Printed Parts:

  • Breach of Warranty – was a warranty expressed or implied regarding the part in question?
  • Defective Design – how was the part designed? Did it meet all testing requirements?
  • Inadequate Instructions – were instructions or warnings stated or given?

So can you sue over 3D Printed car parts?

As is always the case, it depends. These cases are growing as the popularity and convenience of 3D printing become mainstream. Unfortunately, they are not always open/shut cases. And proving the design was defective when it left the care of the creator or retailer can be a challenge. Also, it may be a challenge to prove the producer of a 3D printed part was in the business of selling such parts when they could just be a tinkerer or hobbyist.

Lastly, think about the collectability of the seller of a 3D-printed part. Are they insured? Are they as financially stable as Ford, GM, or Mercedes?

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”