I’m am actually pretty surprised that no one has mentioned this yet, but if you have not heard, a 3-D printer has been created and patented this year! These printers have not become extremely popular with the masses as of yet, due to their costly price tag $1,000.00+, but this has to be one of the most amazing and creative things I have ever seen! How does it work? Instead of printing ink on paper, this machine squeezes out a liquid material, usually plastic, on a surface in layers to create a three dimensional object. The idea of 3-D printing is not a new one. It has been around since the early 1980’s. During this time 3-D printing was mainly used solely by companies in order to create archetypes and models. The machines that these companies used cost usually around five figures and consist of a complicated design that included over one hundred different parts. Now developers believe that the cost of three dimensional printing has decreased enough for it to go mainstream, and they predict that in the next three years a three dimensional printer will be a common household necessity.
So what can one possibly create with a three dimensional printer? The right question is what can’t we make with a three dimensional printer? The different uses for this printer have come a long way from archetypes and models for engineering and development firms. It has been used to create every day items such as jewelry, children’s toys, trinkets, iPhone cases, etc.., but now they are expanding three dimensional printing into other fields and industries. It has become extremely popular in the fashion industry, and is used to create unique accessories to go with a designer’s new line. I even read that someone is using a three dimensional printer to build an Aston Martin will supposedly work! However, I believe that the most advantageous use of the 3-D printer is in the medical and veterinary fields. In an article I read the other day it stated that a vet created a prosthetic leg for a duck that allowed it to walk, or should I say “waddle”, again. There are also rumors circulating that biomedical engineers grew human tissue in a lab, and instead of using plastic, they used human tissue in a three dimensional printer in order to create body parts that commonly need to be replaced with a prosthetic. Even if the rumors are premature, it’s an incredible concept. If it is a successful venture, it would pave a new road in health care and drastically increase the possibility of saving lives. Imagining there not being a waiting list for an organ transplants, organ donors are no longer necessary, and not having to take medicine for the rest of your life in order for your body not to reject an implant or a prosthetic or another foreign entity that is placed within the body. The idea that science is so close to making this idea become reality it just simply mind-blowing.
As usual, with a positive comes a negative. 3-D printing already has experienced cons with its superior technology. One of con is that a person can literally print ANYTHING, including parts of a gun. There are two men out in Texas who have become at-home gun manufactures by creating gun parts using a three dimensional printer. What makes this situation such an issue is that the guns actually work and shoot real ammunition. These men are proud of the fact that these guns are unserialized and that a twelve year old is able to go online and purchase one of their guns. So, how would instances like this affect gun control? How are we going to be able to prevent thousands of disasters, such as the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, from happening when anyone has access to a gun. What will happen someone who doesn’t know the first thing about using a gun buys one and accidentally kills himself. We would not be able to keep track of who owns guns anymore. This scares me, especially growing up right next to Trenton and hearing these horror stories. I actually just lost an old friend this year because she was shot at through her boyfriend’s car and this happened when the government is trying to increase gun control. Another downside to three dimensional printing that I read about, is that a study shows that being in the room with a three dimensional printer could be as harmful to our bodies as smoking a cigarette. This makes sense to me, because this machine basically uses a melted plastic mix, and the fumes from that will get inhaled into your lungs and cause problems that would not allow the organs to function properly. Another thing I though about is that if we can make just about anything in our homes, what will this do to the economy. It is estimated that a three dimensional printer will save a family an average of two thousand dollars a year so we will have more money to spend, but why would we want to spend money when we can just make it under our own roofs. Even with all these negative aspects of three dimensional printing, it is still an amazing thing to watch and know just how far technology has come along.