3D Printing: Fabricating a New World

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.

MakerBot 3D Printer. SOURCE: Hack N Mod

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.

Contemporary 3D Printer

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.

3D Printed Dashboard by Object Geometries. SOURCE: GreenProphet.com

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.

-M-

For better understanding  of 3D Printing, please watch video below:

The 3D4D Challenge:

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Comments

  1. Janet Sue Reck says

    Time will tell….great article Michelle!

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thanks Janet Sue! It’s a bittersweet occurrence when time appears to speed up due to technology 🙂

  2. Monica Myles says

    So cool!

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Isn’t it Monica? It’s hard to believe that so much innovation is happening in the world. 🙂

  3. I can’t quite wrap my head around all of this. The possibilities are really incredible and I hope it does provide economic opportunities for everyone, not just the very rich. Thanks for sharing!

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thank You Shannon! Yes, it’s difficult to believe that regarding 3D printing and replicating- The future us now. There is so much finger-pointing as to where the economy is going. Let’s hope more people take notice of these opportunities and work to support them. The politicians can play Chicken Little claiming the sky is falling, but today’s innovators and innovation observers can still make positive changes for the lives of many around the world.

  4. This technology is incredible! If it could be translated to an individual basis, it would be a huge way to save on all that packaging waste, shipping costs, fossil fuels, etc. Nice! Thanks for sharing the knowledge, M!

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thank You so much Gia! Yes, the logistic applications for this technology are both mond boggling and inspiring. There is so much that technology innovators are doing that will make a huge positive impact on the world’s economic and environmental problems. I believe it’s time for all of us to stop being afraid of change and be part of solutions- although who would have thought that technology is leading those changes. Fantastic I say!

  5. Andrew Halligan says

    I could totally have used this type of tech while working on older Mercedes cars. There has been plenty of times where an old plastic piece of trim or an old plastic clip breaks, and I have to go and order it and wait a couple of days to get it. With this stuff I could print another one in a matter of minutes and save tons of time in the process!

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Wow Andrew! That is an amazing personal application of how 3D printing will change our lives. I totally understand the time savings from the process that you mentioned. As someone who shops mostly online because I hate to visit stores unless I have to- The process could make my personal life even better. Yeah, I’m that lazy. 😛

  6. Haha! Very cool Michelle! I love new technology!

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      Thank You Freem! Well, as a Geek myself…I LOVE TECHNOLOGY TOO!!! Hahaha!

  7. Mimi Shoop says

    I had very mixed feelings about this article. On one hand, it’s a good thing when underdeveloped countries can use technology to help level the playing field for them. On the other hand, the idea of 3D replication kind of freaks me out. Our society, in particular, has SO much already – as if we really need more. Like the girl with the pen, does she need another? Or does she just want another? The corporate media is constantly trying, both overtly and subtly, to convince us we need this or that to be happy, that we deserve to have it all. I’d like to see us become more conscious consumers, to fully appreciate that which we already have first. Reduce, reuse, recycle.

    • Michelle Quevedo says

      You have an excellent point Mimi. There is indeed the huge risk of producing more stuff that ends up in landfills far faster. For instance, if someone wants to print a plastic noisemaker for a football/soccer game. The question that arises is, ‘what do I do with this now?’ The answer is often times ‘through it in the trash.’ There is a great need to develop technologies that will be able to recycle and re-use materials used for 3D printing. This is why having dialogue on such issues is important- it stimulates brilliant minds who create solutions. Let’s keep this dialogue up in our personal lives 🙂

  8. Very cool! I’ve worked a little with 3-D printer, but we mainly use a 5-axis router. It seems that 3D printing has definitely caught on in recent years. It’s starting to really replace vacuum forming.

  9. Michelle Quevedo says

    Thanks for the Share @DscheyH 🙂

  10. Michelle Quevedo says

    Thanks for the RTs @BulldogData and @MSanity1