3D Printing for better, for worse?

3d printer
Image courtesy of BBC news

With 3D printers now firmly established in the printer industry, we are only just starting to see the implications that these revolutionary advancements can and do have.
There have been more and more reports in the media of new ways in which 3D printers can be used. Just recently in Manchester, a man was arrested for owning what is thought to be parts of a 3D printed gun. There is a debate as to whether if the parts printed were intended for a gun, and if the said items were assembled to make a gun, whether it would actually work. However there has been a gun which was printed using a 3D printer and successfully fired in the US back in May 2013. This example highlights just one of the fears people have on the development of 3D printing. Often it is cases like this that grab the attention of the press and media rather than the many benefits and potential that can benefit from 3D printing

Currently in American medicine there are studies going on with adapted 3D printers. These studies involve printing various cell structures in order to replicate the functions of the heart, liver, lung and blood vessels. Organs are stored on a microchip and connected with a blood substitute, allowing scientists to closely monitor specific treatments. The implications of this study not only mean that medical trials on animals and humans could become a thing of the past, but it will also produce a more accurate means of testing. May be one day this could even lead to 3D printed organ transplants. This would be welcome news for everyone as we would see transplant waiting lists evaporate and the risk of complications significantly reduced.

It is only natural and maybe even wise to think about the dangers which can arise from the seemingly infinite potential of 3D printing, However , it’s also important we recognise the great things that can also come from these new and exciting developments in the world of printing, We’ve already seen one example here ; who knows how many other ways 3D printers will inspire and produce life bettering developments in the future?

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