Mere weeks after tariffs were put into place raising the cost of many Chinese-sourced electronics components by 25%, a second round of tariffs is scheduled to begin that will deal yet another blow to hackers. And this time it hits right at the heart of our community: 3D-printing.
A quick scan down the final tariff list posted by the Office of the US Trade Representative doesn’t reveal an obvious cause for concern. In among the hundreds of specific items listed one will not spot “Filaments for additive manufacturing” or anything else that suggests that 3D-printing supplies are being targeted. But hidden in the second list of tariff items, wedged into what looks like a polymer chemist’s shopping list, are a few entries for “Monofilaments with cross-section dimension over 1 mm.” Uh-oh!
That would seem to specifically target the typical 1.75-mm filament that most FDM printers like to eat; however, the line items specifically list the proscribed items as being polymers of ethylene, acrylic, and vinyl chloride. Neither PLA nor ABS, the most popular filaments, fits into any of those categories. The next line item, though, appears to be the gotcha: “Monofilament nesoi [Not Elsewhere Specified or Indicated], of plastics, excluding ethylene, vinyl chloride and acrylic polymers.” This would seem to include plastic filaments of any dimension and made of any polymer other than those listed above, which represents a broad category of…
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