3-D printing is slowly starting to affect our lives in more ways than one.
It has been used in countless different ways ranging from creating small trinkets to entire vehicles. Though these may not sound directly important – or even affordable – to us, 3-D printing is indeed relevant to us, and may be the ones that save our lives one day. With the growing development in health-related 3-D printing, it is important that we are aware of its benefits and controversies.
So what exactly is 3-D printing? An article explains that it was initially invented in the 1980s by Charles (Chuck) Hull, an American technologist that established a company by the name of 3D systems.
Hull developed 3-D printing as the process of creating solid objects by layering a specific material over and over again. This unique process was designed and used to let its user have the customizability in order to create complex solid objects.
3-D printing had been invented in the 1980s, so why is this technology still not being widely used? The large issue with the common usage of 3-D printing was its lack of efficiency and accessibility. Several companies, however, have been developing ways to solve these problems.
A New York Times article reports that technology company Hewlett-Packard has been trying to develop 3-D printers that make 3-D printing easier, faster, and more affordable. The company’s ultimate goal with their development in these 3-D printers is to be able to turn it into a household appliance.
With the growing need for accessible and affordable healthcare, the development of 3-D printing for medical uses sounds almost like a perfect fit. Scientists and engineers have already been taking advantage of 3-D printing’s flexibility and affordability to help people in need.
3-D printing can be used directly by the patient by allowing them to use 3-D printed prosthetic limbs. Traditional electronic prosthetics are extremely expensive, costing thousands of dollars, and can be hard to manage. 3-D printed prosthetics in comparison are much more affordable, and can even cost as little as $20 or $50 for a 3-D printed prosthetic hand. The article above describes how these are especially important to children who quickly outgrow and need to replace their prosthetics frequently.
3-D printing can also be used to create tools that make medical procedures more effective and efficient. An article talks about how London-based scientists have developed a way to improve cancer treatments with 3-D printing. The idea is to create a 3-D model of cancerous tumors based on CT scans, which can later be filled with fluid to see how the tumor may respond to some medications. This procedure could greatly help cancer patients, since their difficult treatment is due to the individuality of their cases.
Another powerful use for 3-D printing technology is its use to create not only environmentally friendly technology, but also in an environmentally friendly way. Kevin Czinger’s idea to create an eco-friendly 3-D printed car had built on his idea that the material, manufacturing, and use of normal cars are destroying the environment. 3-D printing’s environmental benefits can also positively improve our lives in this aspect.
With the rise of uses for 3-D printing, it is important that we keep ourselves informed on a technology that may very well shape our future. Can 3-D printing really be accessible for everyone? What other benefits does it have? Are there any controversies that we must be aware about in order to make sure this technology is widely accepted? These are only a couple of the questions that I aim to research and answer in this blog.