3D printing

 

In our previous article about IR 4.0, we highlighted a few major technologies of our age. Now we want to discuss 3D printing from a more comprehensive perspective. The term 3D printing is not that new, it came to life in the early 2010s. However, the concept of this technology has been evolving since the 1980s. In general terms, 3D printing is a process of making three-dimensional objects from added materials. The additive process is the central part of the action. The printing operation is made by forming layer after layer and as a result creating a full-size object.

 

Many industries recognize this innovative technology as a cost-effective solution for business. Vehicle manufacturers use this printing technique to produce prototypes and some of the automobile parts. The robotics industry is rapidly growing and alongside adopting 3D printing. Even fashion brands are experimenting with this innovative technology to improve their garments. Some of the recognized 3D printing companies that specialize in this technology are HP,  Materialise, 3D System, Proto Labs. It would be a mistake to say that 3D printing is not a growing market, but do you know what impact it leaves on our society?

 

Impact of 3D Printing

A few years ago, 3D printing caused many debates. The technology was on a spotlight due to its easy usage and excellent designs. Currently, the hype has dissolved, but this technique still stays as an innovative method to design and develop objects. It sounds quite basic, but in the real world 3D printing plays an immense role in our society’s future. Here we listed a few examples on how this technology is changing our lives.

 

Healthcare – when the world heard about the possibility of transplanting organs made by computers, everyone was intrigued. With no doubt, many would agree that it’s the discovery of the age, but the technology still has a long way to go. In the medical sector, scientists use 3D bioprinting. 3D bioprinting is a technique that creates body parts using the same printing method. But the difference is that to shape an organ it uses bioinks or biomaterials. Now scientists are working on improving this method, so it could be used every day to help people. 3D printing software can recreate some organs like livers, kidneys, hearts, skin. However, at this stage, it’s hard to make a digital tissue mimic the real organ.

More encouraging is prosthetics manufacturing. 3D printing allows executing precise and functional body parts that can replace lost or harmed limbs. Moreover, this technique offers a way cheaper service and can recreate almost ideally working prosthetics.

 

Sustainability and housing – 3D printing is a durable and sustainable building method, not to mention it’s affordable. If more industrial manufacturers start using this innovative technology, we could eliminate the level of waste and damages made to nature, as the technology doesn’t require that much energy or additional materials. The fact that three-dimensional printing is sustainable makes it an excellent solution for economic and eco-friendly housing. Some countries are developing the idea of 3D printed houses for homeless people.

Another feature is disaster relief. 3D printing can be used to replace broken or damaged parts during extreme situations. It’s been already used for similar purposes. For example, the Japanese company the X VEIN designed a 3D printed drone that can rapidly spot a disaster. It also helps with rescue missions and other disaster relief operations.

 

Archaeological Artifacts

 

Recreating archaeological artifacts – many famous historical and art pieces can be destroyed over the years. 3D printing raised hopes as, now, developers can recreate artifacts with an exceptional level of precision. Also, it can be used for educational purposes to present an essential part of our history to people. The idea is to design many replicas and distribute them to countries around the world so that everyone could learn about our history.

 

3D printer, with no doubt, is one of the most remarkable inventions of our era. It is comparably affordable, sustainable, and can produce durable objects. The producing technique can solve many issues regarding healthcare, housing, environment, and even destroyed historical artifacts. The impact of 3D printing on our society is positive as it gives the hope to people that soon we will be able to receive much-needed transplants and prosthetics or to buy a house that cost only a few thousands.

However, 3D printing can also present risks. Indeed, when used to produce leather, electronics or even jewelry illegally, 3D printing can scale and reduce costs of making counterfeits. Thus, society needs to figure ways to combat it. Also, 3D printing includes selling and managing designs, which turns out to be more difficult than it sounds sometimes. By using blockchain, companies would be able to track ownership of a design and thus, avoiding potential issues regarding this matter.