3D printing has gone from science fiction to reality in less than ten years, and it’s brought a number of changes with it. This new technology has had an impact on nearly every industry out there: everything from medicine and engineering to the arts and education has benefited from 3D printing. 3D printers have even become cheap enough that small home printers are very affordable. Anyone can now use 3D printers to create toys, small miniatures, and other things. While that’s definitely awesome, it’s not exactly world-changing. However, there are many other things 3D printers have made possible that will change how we do things. Here are 3 ways that 3D printing is changing our world.
We Always Have Replacement Parts
Did your IKEA shelf come without a few special parts? Do you need a new hinge for your door or knob for a cabinet? Wanting to change the design of the Ikea Lamp Shades? There’s no need to run to the store or order the part from the manufacturer when you have a 3D printer. Just print what you need! On a larger scale, manufacturers can use 3D printing to greatly reduce their manufacturing time and costs for some items. This, in turn, may lower the cost, especially if those items had to be manufactured by hand due to their detail or size.
One major application of this is in space exploration. If the International Space Station needs some new parts or other items, it can take months before they receive them on the next shuttle launch, plus it’s incredibly expensive to send shuttles into space. NASA has already shipped a 3D printer to the station to help alleviate some of these issues.
There’s Less Waste
Think about construction: when building anything, there’s always some leftover wood, metal, and other materials. But with 3D printing, that’s not the case. Huge 3D printers can create just about anything, and while we may not be quite to the point of printing out houses, 3D printers have definitely changed the construction industry for the better.
In addition to cutting back on waste and cost, they’re also much better for the environment. In China, they are actually taking old materials and recycling them through 3D printing into parts for new homes. It’s incredibly cost effective and can be used to create low-cost homes for those in need while saving the environment. Many plastics can also be recycled through 3D printing, keeping these non-biodegradable substances out of landfills.
They can Save Lives
While printing actual living cells is still in the testing phase, many researchers and doctors are very optimistic about using 3D printing in this way. In fact, 3D printers have already been used to create things out of organic matter, so it may not be long until we are capable of “printing” organs that can actually serve as viable replacement organs for transplant patients. If this is possible, 3D printing will become a life-saving technology that could save the lives of millions.
These are just three ways that 3D printing in changing the world. There are many other applications for this technology—printing food, creating affordable prosthetics, and sharing art are just a few of the other possibilities. As one of the most rapidly evolving technologies on the market today, it won’t be long before 3D printers are as common as inkjet printers.
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– Apple3dprint Staff