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Will 3D Printing Change The World?

December 17, 2013

Ok, so this may not be directly related to advertising and communications (just yet anyway), but this is something we all need to know about, because it is going to change the way we live our lives!

The concept of 3D printing is exciting, daunting, and also a little frightening. Yes it will help our lives in a range of ways, and it will unleash some amazing creativity, however where do we draw the line, and who regulates what people make with 3D printers? Some of the 3D printed items we’ve seen so far include, a working gun, human stem cells, your very own fetus paper weight (based on an MRI of your developing baby), food, clone dolls of yourself, a racecar, a bikini, and a new jaw to name a few.  But if we put aside the multitude of questions and apprehensions, and just focus on the Wow of what is being achieved, it is quite mind-blowing!

Earlier this year NASA paid to have a 3D food printer developed so that astronauts could enjoy freshly cooked food in space. Using a standard 3D printer, they replaced the ink cartridges with printable food ingredients such as powders, oil and water. The printer bed is heated, therefore cooking the food as it is printed! The basic sauce and cheese pizza takes about 12 minutes, and whilst it doesn’t sound particularly appetizing just yet, for astronauts who live off dehydrated food for months, it would be heaven!

While this printer hasn’t quite perfected the recipes for human consumption, just yet, imagine in the future being able to come home from work and have your 3D printer whip up a 3D printed dinner in 20 mins! As well as pizza, 3D printers have cooked up pasta, bread, and made chocolate creations.

My imagination can stretch to visualizing some of the possible applications of a 3D printer, but what about 3D printed organs, also known as Bioprinting? Although we are told it wont be happening anytime soon, flat structures like human skin would be the easiest human organs to make, and may be trialed in the near future. So, not only could sick patients receive organs quicker than waiting for a donor, but drug companies are also seeing the potential of being able to test drugs on 3D printed tissues and organs.

Here is an example of how 3D printing helped save a babies life, view the video here >

On a lighter note, in the lead up to Christmas, a British children's charity Kids Company has opened a pop up shop in London that will 3D print toys for kids in need this Christmas. Open to all from Dec. 13 to Dec. 18, "Print Happiness" will, with the help of donations from the public, create toys for Kids Company children who would otherwise not have anything to unwrap on Christmas Day. Six 3D printers will create the toys live at shop in London's Soho. To print a toy, people can send a text donation of five pounds, and select the toy design of their choice.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, but I’m intrigued to see where it takes us. I do however understand the in trepidation people might have with this technology, what do you think?

Watch the 'Will 3D printing change the world?' video >


Author: Zoe Manderson
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