I’m really excited to see 3D printers come to prominence and love the images that I’ve seen. Only this week I saw an Aston Martin completely bought together from 3D prints, it was stunning. Not entirely sure of the driving capabilities but it sure did look good, straight from a Bond film!
The actual processes of printing in 3D were invented in the late 1970s. As with all original processes the printers were cumbersome, expensive, with limitations in what they could produce. Advancements have since been made and 3D printers are now available for home users. The Computer Aided Design (CAD) creates a template and then layers upon layers, around 0.1 m thick, of durable plastic are fused together.
The three-dimensional designs mean we can now make a new phone case in under 30 minutes. Designer Iris van Herpen used this new technology to create a pair of shoes for her Paris catwalk collection.
Alarmingly 3D printers have also been used for a less savoury output. Astonishingly this technology has been abused to make a 3D handgun. It was assembled from separate printed components made from ABS, only the pin was made of metal. In a world with so much heartache and so many tragic events why on earth would any form of time or effort go into engineering something so completely worthless?
I suppose that this is always the danger with new technologies, there are risks as well as benefits. Surely the way forward for the 3D printer is positivity. If the price can come down, which it surely will over time, then I foresee a time when many of the challenges we face in the world today can be overcome with this wonderful tool. Just imagine its capabilities for the third world.
NASA has just approved a grant for a team of engineers to create a prototype of a universal food synthesiser, whereby nutritionally sound meals are fused together from cartridges of powder and oils – bingo world hunger is a thing of the past.
The advancements in medicine also really excite me. For instance the fight against cervical cancer is being met head on with the help of 3D printing. A huge killer in the developing world a prototype has been made of a magnificent tool called the ‘CryoPop’. Dry ice is used in the region by the soda companies trading there, so the makers of the CryoPop are using dry ice as a cryogenic agent to freeze precancerous lesions in the cervix.
There was a report that a baby life had been saved by creating a splint to allow the infant to breathe. The splint fitted perfectly around the airway, holding it open and making it possible for the child to breathe. Previously the airway splints have been carved by hand, these take time to produce and do not match exactly a patients airway. 3D created a perfect match.
I see a day that both worlds: leisure and business, will be using 3D printing and the effects will be immense.
I’m off to design something useful!
Until next time…