3D printing is a real game changer. It’s such a game changer that it could have easily been included in our previous posts, Preparing for the tech Revolution and Revisiting the Tech Revolution – Two and a Half Years Later. 3D printing is very much a part of this technological revolution that we’re currently experiencing in our lifetime. Although it was not included in those previous posts, leaving it off the list of topics by no means minimizes its current impact, nor the promising yet complex future that lies ahead. For the sake of creating a shorter post it was previously omitted but lucky for us we can now dedicate a whole post to 3D printing!
The truth is that 3D printing will revolutionize the way we create, manufacture and innovate across various industries. From healthcare to architecture and beyond, we are already witnessing its direct influence. Although 3D printing may be new to some, it can actually be traced back to the 1980’s with the invention of the stereolithography (SLA) which allowed layer by layer creation of three dimensional objects. Then in the 1990’s several other additive manufacturing techniques were developed. Two of the more popular being selective laser sintering (SLS) and fused deposition modeling (FDM) also known as fused filament fabrication (FFF). SLS uses a laser to fuse powdered materials together, while FDM and/or FFF extrudes molten plastic to build objects layer by layer.
So, what is the big deal? What is so interesting about 3D printing? Well, how about being able to 3D print patient-specific medical implants, prosthetics, and even the potential to bioprint living tissues and organs? If that is not interesting, I don’t know what is. It amazes me that in the future we could possibly curb the shortage of donor organs for transplantation by bioprinting tissues and organs from a patient’s own cells.
If you find this to be as interesting as I do then you may enjoy this quick video:
Oh, but there is more. 3D printing has the potential to significantly reduce cost and development time with rapid prototyping and customized manufacturing, which could be huge for industries such as automotive and aerospace. 3D printing has found its way into architecture, fashion, education and even food. It’s currently empowering the future entrepreneurs of tomorrow and inspiring innovation leading to various forms of creativity and invention worldwide due to its accessibility and customization. 3D printing brings manufacturing closer to the end user. It allows for customized tailored products to be more accessible and affordable in remote areas all around the world.
A hobby enthusiast and/or budding entrepreneur with the right idea and a 3D printer can potentially prototype the next great invention. Although we can go into detail about the various 3D printers out there on the market for hobby enthusiast, CNET has already put together a wonderful list that you can access here: https://www.cnet.com/tech/computing/best-3d-printer/
After checking out that article, and if you’re sold on 3D printers you can head over to gameboy.com for some cool and inspiring hobby project ideas https://www.gambody.com/blog/cool-things-to-3d-print-in-2021/
As wonderful as all this seems to be, there has also a bit of controversy that has surrounded the complex future of 3D printing. One story involved a man from upstate New York who 3D printed 110 firearms in order to sell them at the Attorney General’s gun buyback event in Utica. You can read about that story here: https://interestingengineering.com/culture/man-makes-usd21000-by-selling-3d-printed-guns
As one would imagine from the story above, with 3D printers becoming more accessible there has also been a rise in the 3D printing of ghost guns. Ghost guns are the fastest growing gun safety problem facing in the United States. To read more about this check out the link here: https://everytownresearch.org/report/the-rising-specter-of-ghost-guns/
So while 3D printing shows great promise for various industries and it is set to revolutionize the processes that foster innovation, it will also present some complex challenges ahead. There is no denying that 3D printing will reshape industries and impact our lives in profound ways but will we get to a point where 3D printers are as commonplace as televisions in most homes? Time will only tell as they become more accessible. Also, what will that mean for society? What measures will we take for added security? Will it bring a call to action for more education and awareness, stricter regulations, enhanced monitoring and tracking, software restrictions, responsible ownership reporting, and collaboration with online platforms? Those are all interesting questions that will likely be addressed in the not so distant future. Whatever the outcome, 3D is and will be very much a real game changer as it plays a significant part in this technological revolution that is currently underway.
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