We are born, and as humans, we naturally grow and evolve. This process is within our genetic make-up. As society evolves, so does the technology that we use. One technology that is progressing rapidly is the technology of 3D printing. The technology of 3D printing has already shown its muscle and capabilities by transforming every form of industry that has embraced it and started using it. Three-dimensional printers have already changed the way we live our lives, it has improved many industries production methods, and continues to have a major influence in how the future is being shaped.
What’s incredible about the technology of 3D printing is it’s progression and current influence across industry sectors that inevitably intersect with our lives. The next industrial revolution is well underway and 3D printers have been the source of that kick start. 3D printing is not all hype either; it is likely to not be passing us by anytime soon. The technology is here to stay, with that being said, let’s have a look at the kind of effect it might have on the global economy, consumers, and businesses alike.
The Effects of 3D printing on the Environment
For those of you who do not already know, traditional manufacturing has had a negative effect on the environment. What companies and manufacturers are finding out by using 3D printing in their area of business is that they have been able to significantly reduce their carbon footprint. This is benefiting companies greatly. Below we will explore some of the main benefits that come with using a 3D printer.
1. Products made on Demand
The problem at the moment is that companies are over producing their products; this is both a waste of money and the manufacturing companies’ time. If the products are not sold, or the product line is discontinued, then it’s off to the landfill with all those goods. This needless waste can be avoided by simply using 3D printing in the area of product manufacturing and only creating products on demand for consumers at the point they are needed. The saving of money and time in this area alone for manufacturing companies has been revolutionary.
2. Convenient Product Parts
The problem today is if we have a functioning item in our house and a part breaks, then you can’t use that item again until the broken piece or the full item is replaced with a new one. What the manufacturers of desktop 3D printers are encouraging is a future where the majority of homes have a 3D printer. When this is the case, homeowners will be able to download product part CAD files from manufacturer’s websites (possibly a fee attached) and print off what is needed instead of ordering it.
There is much anticipation in the future of a point where customers are not required to contact manufacturers to mail out replacement parts, but where customers can first look to see if it’s available online to print at home. Won’t it be nice not to have to wait weeks for a company to get back to you? Or, the needless wait time for spare parts to arrive in the post, shipped from across the globe.
3. Cut Waste Cost on Materials
If you ask any company, an area where they would like to improve, most would say the area of product material waste. Traditional manufacturing is a heavy hit on the manufacturing companies’ bottom line. When a 3D printer is used in manufacturing, the printer will only use the materials that are needed in creating the product. This translates into little-to-no waste. This is why various companies in the manufacturing business are turning to 3D printing in an effort to save money and minimize waste on materials.
4. Massive Savings on Transportation Costs
For example, if a product is manufactured in South America, and it’s needed in the United Kingdom, then that is a fair distance for a product to travel to meet its destination. In fact, the product will have to travel across multiple continents by either ship or air, until it arrives to its destination. When a company incorporates 3D printers into the office, it’s possible to laser scan an object and use the raw materials to recreate it locally. (That is, of course, dependent on whether the company has the right advanced printing systems).
The positive effects this is having on the environment is becoming clearer to manufacturing companies that are earth-conscious, and looking for ways to save and reduce waste. They are embracing this innovative technology into their business modules.
As 3D printers become more accessible over the next decade, it’s then that the full effects of 3D printers on the manufacturing industry and the benefits on the environment will become more evident.
3D Printers are Revolutionizing Art
The accuracy and detail that can be captured and created using 3D scanning and using a 3D printer has driven budding artists and designers to look at this technology to find new ways to create pieces of modern art. Another way it’s changing art is that 3D scanning also gets an accurate account of deteriorating historic masterpieces. This allows those who wish to preserve history a way to restore it. In the Vincent Van Gogh Museum, in Amsterdam, has already started a program using these methods to create exact replicas of the famous artist’s most renowned paintings.
3D Printers Introduced at Educational Levels
The introduction of 3D printers at classroom level has long been a talking point among the education boards across the world. Would it be beneficial to the children, and would it be cost effective in terms of improving education? The thing with 3D printing is it is the “next big technology” and it will be around for some time. Wouldn’t it be better to introduce the up and coming generations to this technology at a young age?
This would give future generations the opportunity to learn and explore from an impressionable age the benefits of using 3D printers. The technology is quickly becoming more relevant today than it has been in previous years. As printing systems become more affordable, and within reach of the public, it will be seen in learning programs to educate younger generations to challenge and push their creativity. As of right now, 3D printing is used at university and college levels.
3D Printing in Space
You know a technology is cool when NASA is involved. They are testing and using it to improve space missions. NASA has always been connected with superior technology, and when they took on and explored 3D printing, it made the world take notice. Many looked more indepth at what 3D printing is capable of creating. Things may be getting a little better for astronauts in space when it comes to meal times, check out the video below to see how 3D printers are used to make a 3D printed pizza.
NASA will not only be using a 3D printer to create pizzas in space, they are also looking to use specially adapted 3D printers that have the ability to work at zero gravity. The equipment is meant to make specific parts and components while undertaking missions in space.
Has Healthcare been improved by 3D Printing?
The answer in short is—yes—3D printing has improved healthcare; it is also revolutionizing modern surgery practices. It is leading the way in breakthrough organ research. Companies like, Organovo, are using a specialized 3D printer in their Bio-printing science projects. Organovo has already found a way to replicate human-like tissues that naturally grow and human liver tissues. This incredible discovery using bio-printing to create live tissue is causing a spark and all kinds of ethical debates. Many are arguing on whether it is our place to create human tissue and body parts at all.
The debate is ongoing, and many are for it because of how it could help those in need of an organ transplant, while others believe it to be morally wrong. The point is scientists are determined to find solutions to impossible problems despite the controversy surrounding it. This breakthrough in research is a new reality for health specialists and the people in power; they may look to it so they can give the best medical care for those in desperate health situations.
3D Printers will Transform Home Life
Homeowners love their comforts, whether it be furniture, beds, or TV’s they want to have the best quality items. Advancements of the equipment is changing them from being bulky in size into smaller, more compact models. The smaller sizes and more affordable prices make it so that this product now reaches the public. It won’t be too long before the evolution of the 3D printer turns it into a common fixture in the home, like the flat screen television. It’s an exciting future to look forward to because of the possibilities presented to everyone instead of a select few. As mentioned earlier, no more long waits for parts to be shipped in the mail. Homeowners will soon have the power and technology to create different products in the comforts of home.
How will 3D printing affect the global economy?
The global economy is set to change in good measure by the 3D printing industry. Things will not be the same; there will be major disruptions due to the progression of 3D printing. Products will become cheaper to make, products will become more customer focused, as more and more companies implement this technology into product development.
The U.S. alone has seen an incredible growth rate in 3D printing technology, and its growth rate across Europe and even China is not far behind. China is already the biggest manufacturing country in the world. When manufacturing becomes local, using 3D printing systems, it would give China the edge in domestic production. We will not see the real implications of how this will affect China’s economy, until China embraces the technology as its own.
One thing we can all agree on is 3D printing is never dull. With new 3D printers available and new materials emerging on the market, it is definitely is a technology that creates excitement, and challenges the mind.
The invention of rapid prototyping technology in 1986 by Chuck Hull has progressed, and advanced into one of the most marketable products ever created, 3D printing systems. The whole of society will come to grips with the capabilities of this technology, how it benefits and improves the ways things are made, and feel grateful that they can be a part of it. A 3D printer is fantastic product to invest in and this futuristic technology will have its place within the home soon.