3D printing is an exciting new technology that involves “printing” three dimensional objects from a digital blueprint. Material is added layer upon layer, hence the term “printing. Some form of industrial 3D printing has existed as early as the 1980s; however, it is only in recent years that the technology has become sufficiently advanced to allow affordable access to hobbyist and domestic use.
3D Printing is emerging as a very efficient option for small businesses that do not have access to the economies of scale that larger corporations do. For example, to build a certain product through traditional manufacturing methods, supply lines may have to be laid out, sometimes internationally, which can cost a significant amount of time and resources.
If assembling an item requires many different parts that must be ordered from different manufacturers located in different countries, a small business may find it very hard, if not impossible, to come up with a competitive business plan. 3D printing gives small-scale enterprises the ability to print just as many components as needed, without requiring that they purchase thousands of units at a time in order to be cost-efficient.
The ability to print functional body parts, such as a replacement ear or a nose, or even more complex organs, such as a heart or lung, may not be far off. 3D bio-printing involves using a combination of human cells and a gel-like material to hold them together. In as early as the next ten years, we may be able to see more complex replacement organs being created from scratch.
While a cheap, fully functional, printable plastic gun that functions in the full capacity of conventional firearms is not yet available, advances in the field of 3D printing could definitely make it possible in as early as the next five years. While the technology to create such a weapon is already in place, the high-end 3D printers required to produce functional gun parts are prohibitively expensive; more than $10,000. In addition, a printed gun would still require conventional ammunition.
Some have noted that 3D printing has the potential to render the issue of gun control moot. Defense Distributed, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to creating a working gun that would be available for download to anyone. They have been praised by gun rights organizations such as the Gun Owners of America, for being advocates for freedom; they have also received criticism from gun control advocates, who have called the organizations motives reckless, disregarding public safety and seeking to undermine the government.
Nephi Malit is a blogger who enjoys taking a look at new technologies and their sociopolitical implications. You can read more of his words at thetwentyishconservative.com [http://thetwentyishconservative.com], a conservative opinion blog for young people.No tags for this post.