3D printers are on a collision course with the systems that make up our society. They are poised to change the way goods are delivered, homes are constructed and how we see our home computer systems. It will be interesting to see the change that this technology makes on our world in the coming years. One thing is certain, once they become more popular life will never be the same.
If you don’t know what a 3D printer is take a look at this: Social Change. This excerpt of an article on wikipedia, explains a little about how 3D printers have the potential to go from a toy with a high price tag to a society changing machine. With the ability to design almost anything you need and transmit those designs to anyone who needs people in other countries can get many of the supplies they need.
You can scroll around and find out how they work but to simplify it, they are a cross between magic and super science. All rolled up with the ability to change the world. Lets look at what a 3D printer can really do!
1. You can make nearly anything, cheaper than you could buy it!
3D printers work by taking a 3D model and then layering a variety of materials to make that object. People have built amazing things with them and often at a cost far less than if they were to buy it. This man followed someone else designed and modified them slightly to make a prosthetic hand for his son. All this done for around $50, when a normal prosthetic costs 42k. Yes 42,000 dollars. More money than you might pay for an undergraduate education for a year.
2.You can share your designs and help others.
If you did not know, inventions are protected by patents. This means if you reproduce something with out the patent holder permission you are liable to be sued. The reason people do this is to protect themselves from large corporations that have the means to mass produce their designs and profit off of them. More about patents here.
3D printing puts the means of production in the hands of the consumer. Meaning that any can make nearly anything. The limitations of these printers are even being pushed every day. With a metal 3D printer in the works.
Now someone can take their design and give it away as they see fit or make it themselves!
3. It can be as simple or complex as you want
3D printers can make hundreds of tiny parts which you then assemble into a prosthetic arm or they can make something as simple a pair of dice. You can see all the options here at Yeggi .
Though 3D printing more complex objects will require substantial engineering knowledge, simple objects can be designed by the every day consumer. As 3D printers become more popular designs will likely become more commercially available, with companies creating sets of designs with warranties for customers to purchase.
Though this spells out bad news for big box stores which are already struggling.
4. The Death of the superstore
Superstores dominate the landscape of many towns such as WalMart, Kmart, Target etc. Consider if you were not forced to visit these stores but instead could create your own designs at home. You may need to buy the supplies but after that you could make most simple things at home. No longer would people be forced to shop at places that often have unethical labor practices but could simple make what they needed in the comfort of their own home.
5. Housing for all.
You might not have heard, but we have a major problem finding housing for everyone. This is for a whole variety of reasons but the least of which is a lack of housing. One of the major problems is constructing cheap enough housing to temporarily shelter people till they get on their feet. Many of you know that there are homeless shelters but as many of you also know many homeless choose not to use them.
Yes, I know homelessness is often related to many factors, but this can at least provide quickly produced temporary shelters. 3D printers may not be able to print out the solution to the worlds problems, but they can definitely help. The more people who know about them and figure out innovative ways to use the technology the closer we come more fair and just society.
I present to you a solution! Not the best houses but enough to get by and private! All built by a 3D printer.