Going for as low as $200, 3D printers are being used to print just about anything. From objects as mundane as flower vases to complex objects like favorite action figures and buildings, it almost sounds like science fiction.
We are well aware that our dear planet is dying due to destructive human activity and climate change. There arises a concern as to whether 3D printing would end up flooding the planet with yet more useless objects and aggravate the situation. Furthermore, because just about anything can be 3D printed, there has been apprehension that guns and gun parts could be printed and used to cause havoc. And yet, probably with some form of regulation, 3D printers could actually be used for good, especially in the following fields:
In the health care field, which stands to gain the most as it directly benefits humans, 3D printing has enabled doctors and surgeons to plan for effective procedures way before they happen. Pharmaceutical companies have been able to print drugs tailored to the patient’s needs. In orthopedics, 3D-printed prosthetics and bone fragments are inexpensively changing lives. Very soon, it will be possible to print human tissues and organs customized for specific patients.
Right at the start of the 21st century, gambling transitioned from a strictly land-based experience to an activity that gamblers could enjoy via the internet without the feeling of missing out. Games like online casino slots are now incredibly popular, thanks to widespread internet connectivity and the convenience that internet gambling brings.
As technology advanced, so did online gambling, shifting to live dealer gaming and most recently virtual reality, which offers one of the most immersive online gambling experiences yet. With 3D printing technology, things could get even more immersive if combined with augmented reality where in-game cards or tokens are printed to offer players a more hands-on experience.
Construction and Architecture
Additive manufacturing has been pushed even further, and Dubai & China, who are construction masterminds, have been working on setting up 3D printed houses and skyscrapers. 3D printed prefab houses are also disrupting the market and provide a cheaper alternative to aspiring homeowners. Cladding for houses can also be printed to regulate temperatures during different seasons.
With 3D printing, architects can now indulge their imaginations and come up with complex geometries no longer limited by human capabilities. Architectural prototypes can also be printed on demand.
Motor Vehicle and Aeronautics Manufacturing
Airplane manufacturers can now save time and billions of dollars and reduce carbon emissions. Plane parts like the door locking shafts, brackets for cabin compartments, ventilation systems, and electric cables can be made lighter by using 3D printed versions, hence saving millions of fuel consumption over the lifespan of a plane.
The time spent to conventionally produce a single part and transport it to an assembly line could be reduced significantly as the prototype can be shared online and printed at the assembly plant. Motor vehicle parts are also being 3D printed, cutting down on emissions and waste in a fast and precise way.
Fashion and Art
Technology is still quite expensive in the fashion industry, producing any imaginable parts for the runway or movie productions is now possible. Film props like superhero costumes can now be 3D printed and provide an ‘out of this world’ experience. Some shoe manufacturers like Adidas have been experimenting with printing shoe soles while seeking to cut down costs. Accessories have also not been left out.
Have you ever imagined creating a piece of art but simply lacked the talent to explore your creativity? It’s now possible to bring your dreams to life through 3D printing of art pieces from sculptural art forms to precise realistic paintings.
Provided with the latest 21st-century technology, students can prepare for future STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Maths) careers without too much hassle. 3D printing technology engages students, and instead of simply just consuming information, they can actively challenge themselves, create and develop critical thinking skills that are vital in real-world problems.
3D prototypes of just about anything, from architectural and archaeological pieces to real-life animals can help save costs and time, not to mention the trauma of seeing a poor live mouse being bisected for the sake of science. The learning curve for this technology is very small, and the machines are easy to operate.
What 3D Printing Holds for the Future
3D technology has a lot to offer us, and it looks like a gift that just keeps on giving. This could be the solution to reducing if not eliminating plastic waste as some of the materials used are biodegradable plastics made from cornstarch.
It will also eliminate overproduction as materials are printed on-demand hence, no need for inventories and warehouse costs. With some regulations put in place to control the production of dangerous weapons, 3D printers can pave their way to mass use and transform the world as we know it.