3D printing is a technique that has gained a lot of popularity over the past few years, but a lot of people aren’t really sure how it works or what the implications are.
After learning that Cornell had built a fully functional speaker using this 3D printing technique, I was interested in learning more.
3D printing is part of the additive manufacturing technology family. Additive manufacturing refers to the layering technique a machine uses to add layers to an object that it has the dimensions for. I like to compare it to using a scanner, if scanners had the capability to give us actual objects. Based on what the object is, different materials can go into the machine to make the object.
Here’s a good webpage if you want to learn more about the process.
The possibilities of what we are able to do with this technology are pretty much endless, and many scientists think 3D printers will be available for home use in a short time. All sorts of markets can make products fast and easy. People at home could possibly make things like fitted shelves with just a blueprint and the click of a button.
3D printing has many implications for medicine as well. For example, last March, a patient who had lost part of his skull was able to replace it with a piece of prosthetic plastic that was custom made to fit his skull from a 3D printer.
But like many great technologies, there is also the possibility it can be used for things not so positive.
When blueprints for a 3D plastic gun were made, the gun was shot, and the plans were uploaded online in 2012, the US State Department quickly took them off of the internet. This move was made because they didn’t want to risk the wrong people getting their hands on the plans and making mass amount of non-trackable guns.
While this is a completely reasonable fear, I think there are so many advancements we can make in different parts of human living, 3D technology is something that should be researched and implemented with some regulation.