A young lady holds up her favorite writing pen she likes to use. It is a black ink pen with a plastic body, a metal spring component, and a rubber sleeve next to the tip for finger comfort. She looks at the pen, and decides that she wants another just like it, so she locates the manufacturing code issued to this pen and enters it into a field box on her smartphone. Once the code is entered into the smartphone application, information containing the exact 3 Dimensional (3D) specifications for her pen is then retrieved by way of the Internet. Next to the specifications she sees the material codes needed to fabricate every aspect of this black ink pen. After checking to see if her printer has enough materials left to meet the material code requirements, she purchases the specifications and immediately the information is sent to her printer. Faint noises begin to compose a robotic symphony of lasers, ultrasounds, and recalibrating fasteners. Then, in a matter of minutes, this young lady’s new black ink pen is produced and ready to use.
The scenario above may appear to be from a science fiction novel or, at the very least, a situation from the far off future, however the reality of such a premise is not only plausible, but it is very much a part of today’s technology and innovations.
Already existing in our present world, 3D printers are used for manufacturing machine components, tools, human prosthetics, dental fillings and other consumer products. Aside from the 3D printers and raw materials, all that is needed are scanned and/or computer digitized information of the objects chosen for the fabricating process. Currently in the United States, people are having their teeth fillings produced by 3D printers, biotech innovators are working on printing human organs using human tissue as the raw material, and the industrial world has been using 3D printers to make aeronautical and robotic components.
3D printing will soon revolutionize how people view product manufacturing. Shipping costs and store inventory speculation will become a thing of the past. Activity-Based Costing will be greatly reduced and manufacturing labor numbers will change drastically. Technology Futurist Dan Jeffries states “…3D printers will change the world more than the Internet.” Although it would be difficult to believe that 3D printing could exist without the vehicle of the Internet, Dan Jeffries makes an extremely relevant statement on the Impact 3D printing will make on the world once it has grown from its infancy. The possibilities are endless and the innovators will be plentiful as the 3D printing pioneers lay the groundwork for application.
Given the fact that 3D printing will change how products are made, how will this impact developing countries? Non-profit organization TechForTrade.org sees 3D printing as an opportunity for developing countries to become small producers in their own villages. It is their hope that remote villages in developing countries will have access to tools and products once thought impossible to acquire due to shipping costs and logistics. TechForTrade.org has recently launched a contest called the 3D4D Challenge, focusing on 3D technology for innovative thinkers from developing countries.
The 3D4D challenge calls for innovative thinkers from developing countries to submit their designs and ideas to their panel, who will then judge and award winners of the first round $10,000 for the most viable ideas. Those first round winners will be flown to the TechForTrade.org headquarters in the U.K. where they will be connected with the engineers needed to bring these designs into physical reality. Once the prototypes are produced, they will be judged by a panel of experts in 3D printing who will then award the winner with $100,000. TechForTrade.org believes that 3D printers will make an effective positive change for developing countries. This is why the 3D4D Challenge is a fascinating project because it gives individuals from developing countries the opportunity to connect with global leaders in 3D printing, collect substantial seed money, and see their ideas fledged into physical reality.
There is a growing wave of technology innovators who feel that every country, no matter what their economic standing may be, should have the opportunity and access to the same knowledge others have in developed countries.
The more minds that collaborate on technology, the faster that thought can be formed into physical reality. This is a fact — and it appears to be a growing movement among innovators. Sure, there will always be those focused mainly on profit, but many contemporary innovators believe the next wave of humanitarian aid will be in the form of intellectual innovation. Should this prove to be true, then the day when the young lady fabricates her black ink pen using her 3D printer will come sooner than originally thought. However, this particular young lady may very well live in a remote village in a once underdeveloped country.
For better understanding of 3D Printing, please watch video below:
The 3D4D Challenge: