Outside of its unmatched production and manufacturing benefits, 3D printing is also having a large impact on many important issues in the world. From helping doctors to educating the rising generation to aiding soldiers in the battlefield, its reach is far and wide. Let’s take a closer look at how this revolutionary technology is helping the world:
Additive manufacturing technologies, such as 3D printing, are already being implemented in many educational institutes across the globe and are considered some of the fastest growing technologies in education and research. Giving students access to such technologies could be vital to the future, allowing them to gain an understanding for the technology and utilize its benefits. This will not only help with the development of 3D printing technology itself, but it will also enable students to tap into their creativeness. Having access to 3D scanners, 3D printers, CNC’s and CAD software programs will benefit them greatly as they transition into the professional world from their education. According to Jeff Kerns, “Understanding CNC devices like a 3D printer is a sought-after skill in industry. In addition, the scientific and creative mind that understands how to design for 3D printing will continue to be valuable in the manufacturing sector.”
Some 3D printing companies have already begun to incorporate themselves into educational plans.Currently, over 5,000 3D printers can be found in schools across the country. Serving as almost a type of shop class, where a hands-on approach is required, has helped many schools fill a void. 3D printing technology provides students with a method of learning that has never before be accessible – helping to boost solving skills, scientific literacy, and overall education. Perhaps the greatest benefit of 3D printing in education is that as students are educated on the technology, technology itself will be developed tremendously.
3D printing has already made a major impact across multiple sections in the healthcare industry. From 3D printing physical pills with patient-specific dosages to 3D printed surgical guides and models, 3D printing has undoubtedly helped save lives across the world. Thanks to additive manufacturing technologies, doctors now have the ability to produce extremely – sometimes perfectly – accurate 3D models of body parts/organs through CAT scans and MRI’s, such as the 3D printing of lungs, which they can use to map out their surgical procedures on prior to surgery. This has greatly boosted surgical preparation and procedures, resulting in more successful surgeries.
Patient-specific drug dosing is another benefit that 3D printing provides the medical field. Having the ability to 3D print medicines tailored to each specific patient is groundbreaking as patients may soon no longer be under or over dosed with pills and other medicines. Instead, doctors can simply 3D print the exact dosage that a patient requires for their given issue. This seems extraordinarily helpful and opiate addiction has become a huge epidemic in the United States.
3D printing has even produced working prosthetics and functional body parts, with the potential to one day be able to 3D print actual organs. According to Kerns’ article,
“Inkjet and laser printers have provided a proof of concept to create a knee meniscus, heart valve, spinal disk, other types of cartilage and bone, and an artificial ear. There has even been an ear created that would extend to frequencies beyond the ability of our natural ears.”
Articles on 3D printing & healthcare:
- 5 Medical Marvels of 3D Printing
- Black Bone MRI’s: Changing Scanning for 3D Printed Medical Models
- 3D Scanning Aiding Weight Loss & Fitness
- 3D Printing Helps Create Patch That Reduces Heart Failure
- Improving Artificial Joints with 3D Printing
- French Doctors Successfully Implant First-ever 3D Printed Airway Stent
- 3D Printing Living Organs May Soon Be Possible
- 3D Printing: Changing Health Care
- 3D Printing Technologies Aide Critical Facial Reconstruction Surgery
- 3D Printing Aides Diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis Patients
- Company Saves Time and Money Thank to In-House 3D Printed Medical Devices
- Will Injection Molding be Replace by 3D Printing in the Medical Industry?
- 3D Systems’ MultiJet ProJet Makes 3D Printed Lungs from CT & MRI Scans
Emergency & Crisis Responders
Recently, 3D printing has been used in humanitarian efforts across the globe. According to Kerns’ article, there was a study recently conducted which focused on using 3D printing in remote locations. The study explains that solar powered 3D printers were brought to Kenya to help their health facilities.
“Supply chain logistics for humanitarian responses are some of the most complex that exist,” noted the study. “It is challenging to forecast both the demand (due to difficulties in knowing both the timing of a disaster and details of the population affected) and the supply, which is often fueled by donations. A massive mismatch between the supplies delivered and the supplies that are needed is often inevitable both in quantity and kind. As 60–80% of all aid money is spent on procurement, this mismatch represents not only costly errors but errors that can have negative long-term effects on local markets and economies.”
The study found that 3D printing was indeed able to be transported and used for rapid part production in remote locations after finding that “They were successful based on their ability to function independently of infrastructure, transportability, ease of use, ability to withstand harsh environments, and costs.”
The benefits of 3D printing go much farther than just producing a part fast and accurate, they extend to both the environment and economy. ING Group, a financial service company, holds strong faith in the potential of additive manufacturing technology. They estimate that 3D printing could eventually cut global trading by 40%.
“For now it has very little effect on cross-border trade. This will change once high speed 3D printing makes mass production with 3D printers economically viable. The first technical steps have already been taken…3D printers use far less labor, reducing the need to import intermediate and final goods from low wage countries.”
Turning to the automotive and aeronautical industries, 3D printing enables companies to produce parts much more efficiently. Rather than keep unnecessary inventories, parts can be transmitted digitally anywhere in the world and simply 3D printed on-demand. 3D printing is also helping to reduce the number of parts involved in certain parts or components due to its ability to print multiple parts in one printed piece. This allows part production time to be cut down significantly while also saving costs and energy. In addition to this, 3D printing also helps to cut the weight of vehicles and aircraft by producing much lighter parts which saves gas and pollution.
Military & Defense
The United States military uses 3D printing for a vast array of things, such as 3D printing gun components, drones or tooling guides,
“The ability to tailor sensitivity and the resultant energy release in the chemical reaction zone would be a holy grail in detonation physics research,” says Dana Dattelbaum, a Los Alamos detonation expert. “Control and manipulation of structures at the microscopic scales through 3D printing is an exciting step toward achieving these goals.”
Examples of the military’s use of 3D printing can be found below:
In today’s world, technology has a dramatic impact on virtually everything we do in our daily lives. Likewise, product development has seen incredible improvements thanks to technological improvements. More specifically, 3D printing technology is beginning to revolutionize manufacturing processes. Many experts believe that, over the next few years, consumers will have to ability to purchase 3D printers at an affordable price. Should this prediction come to fruition, our lives could be forever changed.