3D Printing : The promising technology with a dark side

April 19, 2015


If you think of 3D printing as a new technology, let me tell you that the history of 3D printing starts in the year 1984. The technology we now know as 3D printing is better known as “Additive Manufacturing” in industrial terms. But as you might find “3D print” sounds much ‘cooler’, we better stick to it.  3D printing is basically the creation of three-dimensional objects from a digital design. In this additive process successive layers of materials are added and laid down in different shapes to produce the desired object.  Such objects can be anything like a pen, hammer, tools etc. But obviously the maximum size and dimension of the the object to be printed would be limited by the 3D printer.
[alert style=”e.g. white, grey, red, yellow, green”]  What’s so great about it ? [/alert]
Actually there are endless possibilities as any well-defined object can be printed with a 3D printer as long as we make a 3D model file of it. But i’ll discuss some interesting scenarios here. In the automotive, civil, footwear, military, fashion industry it is often used to make different prototypes of a final product or parts of the product. For example General Motors and Ford Motor Company uses 3D printing to design prototypes of automobiles or different parts of the automobiles. Perhaps one of the most promising application of 3D printing would be “3D printed organs”. Yes, it’s organs of living beings like us that i’m taking about. It’s possible to print organs from patients own living cells. Although it’s at a nascent stage, researchers are making rapid progress often nowadays in this field. So don’t be surprised to hear of a successful 3D printed human kidney transplant in the near future. Amazing isn’t it ?
Lets imagine another scenario. Suppose you have a small part of a machine like a washing machine, fridge, gadget etc. that’s broken or lost. Now as it’s readily not available you may have to buy the whole machine or you may import the part from abroad. But with 3D printing, simply go online and upload the 3D model (if available on manufacturer’s website) of the part on a 3D printing service website and let them print it for you. Although it may sound unrealistic to become mainstream, it is a good possibility in the near future as it’s being implemented by some websites like shapeways or thingiverse. They are used in all kinds of scenarios like making a 3D model of yourself  to designing complex three dimensional models that look amazing. Have a look at this link for many amazing 3D printings that are being used presently.
[alert style=”e.g. white, grey, red, yellow, green”]  The Dark Side Of 3D Printing [/alert]
Now imagine someone printing a GUN !! Easy isn’t it ? Just upload a 3D prototype or a CAD file and print a gun at home. That will surely make the earth a bloody place to live in, and you will not sleep peacefully at night as you do now. 3D guns have been printed in the recent past and they seem to operate like normal guns. There seems to be no way to restrict people from printing a gun with a 3D printer if they have a 3D software model of the gun. Of course there would be regulations from the government against the printing of 3D guns but with the technology  going mainstream, i fear the outcome provided some sort of preventive measure is taken. Actually i have an idea — Why not connect all the 3d printers to the internet and let the government know what is being printed (by some tamper proof method) ?? Anyways it’s just my idea and someone like you might have thought of a better one.
[alert style=”e.g. white, grey, red, yellow, green”]  Conclusion  [/alert]
As you have seen there are great ways and possibilities for 3D printing. Thus we have also seen the negative side of it, it’s up to us how we use this wonderful technology. And if you are reading this article in 2020, you might have a personal 3D printer at home just beside you. Happy 3D printing !!

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