From the Introduction: "Three-dimensional (3D) printing is a manufacturing process used to create real-world parts from digital 3D design files. This process is of particular relevance to Congress because of its use in federal programs; economic potential; continued applications in scientific research and development; roles in national security; and potential areas of concern, including weapons development and intellectual property law. This report describes the basic parts common to 3D printers and explains the operation of the technology. It also provides a snapshot of current materials and capabilities, traces the historical development of the technology since 1980, provides information on the federal role in 3D printing, communicates the primary properties of 3D printing with reference to manufacturing, explains secondary manufacturing impacts that stem from these properties, and highlights particular issues relevant to Congress."
CRS Report for Congress, R45852
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/