The Medical Profession have already started to take advantage of the technology.
Every Human body is different and so the ease and customisability of parts for implanting in humans is very exciting.
The savings in cost are enough to write home about.
But more than this, there are people who are doing it for themselves such as Paul McCarthy, a special effects expert whose son, Leon was born with a condition which left him with no fingers.
Paul decided to take things into his own hands and designed and printed a prosthetic hand which has completely changed his sons life.
3D printing, in its current form is not much competition for the conventional mass production techniques.
This is due to the durability and finish of the material which is used in the ‘Additive Manufacturing (3D printing)’, which some people say is only good for prototyping and some specialised one of products and for this reason it has been called a gimmick or fad.
But in the future it has been predicted that the material used will be atoms themselves and this will mean configuring the material to and substance wished.
“And that is about all that 3D printers are good for, reckon the doubters. Chief among them is Terry Gou, the boss of Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer of electronic goods, which makes many of Apple’s products in China. He thinks 3D printing is just “a gimmick” without any commercial value in the manufacture of real finished goods, and he has vowed to start spelling his name backwards if proved wrong.”
This doesn’t take away the fact that the consumer has been given a lot more power with the introduction of desktop 3D printers and new companies creating specialised blueprints so we can print our very own 3D product from the comfort of our living room.
“Meanwhile, 3D printing is becoming more readily available to people with no equipment of their own through service providers that print objects on demand from digitised plans, such as Shapeways, based in New York, Sculpteo, based in France, and Materialise, based in Belgium. It prints medical implants for surgeons, models of buildings for architects, lampshades for interior designers, custom-made knobs for cabinet-makers and lightweight parts for industrial robots.”
“As applications of the technology expand and prices drop, the first big implication is that more goods will be manufactured at or close to their point of purchase or consumption. This might even mean household-level production of some things. (You’ll pay for raw materials and the IP—the software files for any designs you can’t find free on the web.) Short of that, many goods that have relied on the scale efficiencies of large, centralized plants will be produced locally. Even if the per-unit production cost is higher, it will be more than offset by the elimination of shipping and of buffer inventories. Whereas cars today are made by just a few hundred factories around the world, they might one day be made in every metropolitan area. Parts could be made at dealerships and repair shops, and assembly plants could eliminate the need for supply chain management by making components as needed.”
source: Richard A. D’Aveni http://hbr.org/2013/03/3-d-printing-will-change-the-world/
This will have implications for big manufacturing business and other sectors such as retail.
The likes of China who in recent years have become the biggest holder of outsourcing contracts will have a big problem on their hands.
With issues like this, come the other inevitable problems relating to national economies and the Global economy as a whole.
What will this mean for Capitalism????
From what I have learned or heard over the last couple of years (no research), the possibilities of 3D printing are endless!
The emergence of this technology could eventually bring about the biggest change in World society ever.
It could spell the end for capitalism as we know it, or from the threat of this could be the dawn of a more strict and authoritarian society.
But maybe we are getting ahead of ourselves.
Once someone owns a 3D printer, which are relatively cheap, one can just download the plans or blueprints from the net and print themselves anything from a house to an automobile or even a gun.
Nasa have already printed engine parts which could be used in space missions and are already in the process of building a purpose built printer which they will they will deposit on the International Space Station (ISS) which will allow the astronauts on the station to print spare parts or special custom built tools for specific jobs for maintenance of the station or any visiting vessel. This will dramatically cut costs of Space based research.
Even more exciting, is what it means for space exploration and colonisation of the likes of Mars.
The first artificially printed burgar was recently created using actual cloned cells from a cow. This could lead to a fix for world hunger.
As I have said many times in this post, the possibilities are endless and we are at the cusp or dramatic change. Lets hope it is for the best!!
This blog is part of an assignment I am doing for my 4th year, 1st semester, Digital Culture Module on my Multimedia degree.
The assignment is in 2 parts.
1. Create a blog to research and discuss a topic that falls under the category of ‘Emerging Technology’. The Digital Age is upon us and it looks like it is here to stay. at least until ‘Quantum computing’ arrives, if it arrives.
2. Based on my research, I must prepare a PodCast. The Podcast must be 120 seconds long with professional quality audio and with option of using an animation or video.
For my topic, I have chosen 3D printing. And what it means for the future
Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using an additive process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes. 3D printing is also considered distinct from traditional machining techniques, which mostly rely on the removal of material by methods such as cutting or drilling (subtractive processes).