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Dean of Students

3-D Printing: Next groundbreaking technological advancement

We live in an exciting age of technology. We have personalized computers in our pockets that have the ability to make phone calls, and the Internet, which connects information all over the world. We are always advancing, always making breakthroughs in the technical field. The most exciting piece of technology to come to the forefront in a long time is gathering a lot of attention from the internet community. 3D printing has been praised as the next great technological advancement because of the endless possibilities and effects it could have on everyday life.

It is impossible not to be excited by the potential of this technology. It is absolutely fascinating, and this editorial board hopes it becomes more accessible to the general public.

For those who are unaware of such technology, 3D printing is almost exactly how it sounds. This technology allows three-dimensional objects to be created based on a computerized 3D model. The 3D “blueprint” is created on the computer, and the printer replicates the object with the exact dimensions using plastic, metal or some other material.

It does this by adding layer after layer of whatever material selected, until an exact replica of the 3D model is created. This allows any shape to be created, and scientists have gotten creative with this technology. Organ transplants have already been successful using 3D printed prototype replacements. In the future, if this technology becomes mass-produced and readily available, there could be a time where organs can be printed at the hospital for those who need a transplant. No more waiting lists or the need to find potential donors for the procedure. Scientists are even beginning to print food. Imagine coming home from a hard day of work and printing your dinner.

In addition, if (and hopefully, when) this technology is mass-produced and easily affordable, it can turn any American household into a manufacturing plant. Instead of being your average consumer, Americans can easily begin to create their own unique products, and completely cut out the manufacturers and investors and put their product directly into the market. There already is a 3D online marketplace called shapeways.com, where Americans sell their unique 3D printed goods online.

It does not stop there. Companies have explored the idea of selling 3D models of their products, so that the customer can forget about the trip to the store and make the product right at home. You need a new doorknob? Print one off right in your own bedroom. Need a new bike seat? That’s right, just go make one yourself.

The economy could also be impacted in a tremendously positive way. Americans could create their own products, and sell them to other consumers without much resistance. 3D printing a product is also much cheaper than other methods of manufacturing, which can cut companies’ costs of production.

This could be one of the biggest human advancements since the Internet, if taken seriously. It could potentially face serious regulations due to its numerous applications, but it is exciting regardless. Every industry could potentially reap the benefits of 3D printing, and scientists are giddy with excitement because of its potential impact on society. It still needs to be researched extensively before every day application is possible, but when it does there will be no question about the advancement we have made.

 

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